Bells tolled in Hiroshima, Japan, yesterday for the 75th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing, with ceremonies downsized due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the city’s mayor urging nations to reject selfish nationalism and unite to fight all threats.
Thousands usually pack Peace Park in the center of the city to pray, sing and offer paper cranes as a symbol of peace, but entry was sharply limited, and only survivors and their families could attend the memorial ceremony.
The city said the significance of the anniversary of the bombing that killed 140,000 people before the end of 1945 had prompted its decision to hold the ceremony despite the spread of the virus, while taking strict precautions.
“On August 6, 1945, a single atomic bomb destroyed our city. Rumor at the time had it that ‘nothing will grow here for 75 years,’” Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said. “And yet, Hiroshima recovered, becoming a symbol of peace.”
At 8:15am on Aug. 6, 1945, US B-29 warplane the Enola Gay dropped a bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” and obliterated the city with an estimated population of 350,000, where thousands more died later from injuries and radiation-related illnesses.
Yesterday, as cicadas shrilled in the heavy summer heat and the Peace Bell sounded, the crowd stood to observe a moment of silence at the exact time the bomb exploded.
Photo: Reuters / Kyodo
“When the 1918 flu pandemic attacked a century ago, it took tens of millions of lives and terrorized the world because nations fighting World War I were unable to meet the threat together,” Matsui said. “A subsequent upsurge in nationalism led to World War II and the atomic bombings. We must never allow this painful past to repeat itself. Civil society must reject self-centered nationalism and unite against all threats.”
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