The Japanese city of Nagasaki yesterday commemorated the 76th anniversary of the detonation of a US atomic bomb over the city, with the mayor calling for the global community to build on a new nuclear ban treaty.
Nagasaki was hit by an atomic inferno that killed 74,000 people, three days after the nuclear bomb that hit Hiroshima.
The twin attacks brought forth the nuclear age and gave Japan the bleak distinction of being the only country to be struck by foreign atomic weapons.
Survivors and a handful of foreign dignitaries offered a silent prayer at 11:02am local time, the exact time the second — and last — nuclear weapon used in wartime was dropped. For a second year, the number of people attending was much smaller due to COVID-19 restrictions. The ceremony is the first since an international treaty banning nuclear weapons came into force last year.
“World leaders must commit to nuclear arms reductions and build trust through dialogue, and civil society must push them in this direction,” Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue said.
The treaty has not been signed by countries with nuclear arsenals, but activists believe it will have a gradual deterrent effect.
Japan has not signed it either, saying the accord carries no weight without being accepted by nuclear-armed states.
The country is also in a delicate position, as it is under the US nuclear umbrella, with US forces responsible for its defence.
“As the only country that has suffered atomic bombings during the war, it is our unchanging mission to steadily advance the efforts of the international community, step by step, towards realization of a world free of nuclear weapons,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said at the ceremony.
On Friday, Japan marked 76 years since the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing around 140,000 people.
Barack Obama in 2016 became the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima, but Washington has never acceded to demands for an apology for the bombings.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach traveled to Hiroshima in July, before the start of the Tokyo Games, to mark the start of an Olympic truce — a tradition that calls for a halt to global conflict to allow the safe passage of athletes.
However, city officials were disappointed after the IOC refused a request to stage a minute of silence at the Games to mark Friday’s anniversary.
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