News24

Hiroshima marks day of atomic bombing

2012-08-06 11:06

Hiroshima - A bell tolled to mark a moment of silence while people joined hands in prayer as tens of thousands marked the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Monday.

Ageing survivors, relatives, government officials and foreign delegates attended an annual ceremony at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park commemorating the US bombing of the city nearly seven decades ago, as a rising tide of anti-nuclear sentiment swells in post-Fukushima Japan.

"On this day, in this city, let me proclaim again: There must never be another nuclear attack - never," said Angela Kane, UN high representative for disarmament affairs, reading a message from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"Such weapons have no legitimate place in our world. Their elimination is both morally right and a practical necessity in protecting humanity."

An American B-29 bomber named Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on 6 August 1945, turning the western Japanese city into a nuclear inferno and killing an estimated 140 000 in the final chapter of World War II.

At 08:15 on Monday, the time of detonation, the toll of a bell set off the minute of silence as pedestrians came to a standstill and bowed slightly, linking hands under a scorching sun.

Quick end to war


About 50 000 people attended the official ceremony, while thousands of others joined demonstrations, marches, forums, and concerts held across the city, a long-time focal point for the global movement against nuclear weapons.

Among the attendees was Clifton Truman Daniel, aged 55, grandson of former US president Harry Truman, who authorised the bombing of Hiroshima and the port city of Nagasaki three days later.

The Allied powers have long argued that the bombings brought a quick end to the war by speeding up Japan's surrender, preventing millions more casualties from a land invasion planned for later in the year.

Daniel is the first Truman relative to attend the anniversary event in Japan.

In separate rallies on Monday, more than 7 000 people, including atomic bomb survivors and evacuees from the Fukushima area, staged anti-nuclear demonstrations, the latest in a series of protests triggered by last year's crisis.

An earthquake-sparked tsunami left around 19 000 dead or missing and knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing meltdowns that spread radiation over a large area and forced thousands to leave their homes.

Power shortages

Usually sedate Japan has seen a string of anti-nuclear protests since Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in June ordered the restart of two reactors.

Many atomic bomb survivors, known as hibakusha, oppose both military and civil use of nuclear power, pointing to the tens of thousands who were killed instantly in the Hiroshima blast and the many more who later died from radiation sickness and cancers linked to the attack.

"We want to work together with people in Fukushima and join our voices calling for no more nuclear victims," said Toshiyuki Mimaki, aged 70, an atomic bomb survivor.

Kumiko Okamoto, a 38-year-old mother of two, said: "There is no difference between atomic bombs and nuclear accidents."

Noda has defended the restarts, citing looming power shortages after Japan switched off its 50 nuclear reactors - which once provided the resource-poor country with a third of its energy - in the wake of the Fukushima crisis.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui called on the government "to establish without any delay an energy policy that guards the safety and security of the people".

Weekly demonstrations

But Noda, who also attended the event, only said: "We will establish an energy mix with which people can feel safe in the long- and medium-term, based on our policy that we will not rely on nuclear power."

Demonstrators marched around the headquarters of Chugoku Electric Power, a regional utility which has reactors of its own, chanting: "Noda should quit. We oppose nuclear power."

Weekly demonstrations outside the prime minister's official residence have drawn thousands, while a rally in west Tokyo last month saw a crowd that organisers claimed swelled to 170 000.

There are fears it could be decades before the area around Fukushima is deemed safe for human habitation.

But Tamotsu Baba, the mayor of Namie, a community within a no-go zone near the plant, told reporters ahead of the ceremony: "I renewed my determination to rebuild our town like what Hiroshima did."

Comments
  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-06 11:55

    The Japanese press declared that through the fire raids: "America has revealed her barbaric character... It was an attempt at mass murder of women and children.... The action of the Americans is all the more despicable because of the noisy pretensions they constantly make about their humanity and idealism.... No one expects war to be anything but a brutal business, but it remains for the Americans to make it systematically and unnecessarily a wholesale horror for innocent victims." Which country in the world, from its beginning to the present time, has the bloodiest history of genocide... slavery... invasions... coups, installing and backing brutal regimes... bombings... massacres and mass destruction—including the use of nuclear weapons? Yes... when it comes to terror within its borders and around the world... This country hasn't stopped killing people around the world since the end of WW11!

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-06 12:24

      The war didn't start with Pearl habour. It had already started with the naval and military expansion of the US into the Pacific. The US is indeed the greatest killer of mankind. From Vietnam to Laos, to Cambodia to Iraq, etc.. America loves killing........too much!

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-08-06 12:41

      Nanking has void Japans opinion on this statement . More BS as usual , distorted historical cherry picking .

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-08-06 12:59

      wow , more blantent lies . How many more? "On 7 December , 1941, Japan attacked British and American holdings with near-simultaneous offensives against Southeast Asia and the Central Pacific. These included an attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbor, landings in Thailand and Malaya[139] and the battle of Hong Kong.These attacks led the U.S., Britain, Australia and other Allies to formally declare war on Japan. Germany and the other members of the Tripartite Pact responded by declaring war on the United States. In January, the United States, Britain, Soviet Union, China, and 22 smaller or exiled governments issued the Declaration by United Nations, which affirmed the Atlantic Charter ."

      gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-08-06 13:13

      The japanese knew very well that the industrial output of the US was 10 times their own. This was a japanese imperialist war, not so Mgoqi?

      gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-08-06 13:14

      Mgoqi why did the japanese attack all their neighbours and not just the US?

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-06 13:38

      @Ninja Was that comment of mine too much for you? If you can't grasp the logic in my point there is little more I could say to illuminate you on the matter. Highliting Japanese brutality in Nanking does not support your point nor detracts from mine. It only shows that Japan acted brutally in Nanking and doesn't absolve US' genocidal adventures. We are talking about a institution that was founded on genocide and the slavery of Africans. Military expansion is aggression!

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-08-06 14:38

      Fidel , if the glaring double standard doesn't seem obvious then i'm not sure what is and under no obligation to fumble around the logic of false statements, I do however look at events in context .You just have a preconceived outcome in opinion of events and then cherry pick to support your assertion and straight up lie. Slavery and genocide tarnishes every nations history , this is hardly the US insitution you try make it out to be and in fact abolishonists first came out of Pennsylvania in 1688 , England in 1772 and finally enacted law in 1863 by Lincoln . Arab slave trade was still quite prolific through these years and ended in 1970. So your comments have false logic because they are just deceitful accusations which have no real debatable value and amount to slander of an entire country. By all means name any country and you can associate all those accusations with them at some point too. Its the tactic of the prophet who prophecises doom and gloom everyday , eventually they right and everyone goes WOW but forget about the overwhelming amount of times they wrong.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-06 15:02

      I have made my point rather clearly and your repeated attempts to input motives and things I did not express are increasingly pathetic. You can twist and distort what I've said as much as you like, the way I have come to my opinion is easily legible.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-06 17:04

      I do not hate America. I hate American Imperialism which has sought to subjugate other countries to Washington's dictas.

      Sterling Ferguson - 2013-09-21 16:53

      prior to WW2 the Japanese weren't angles so, stop your crap. These people had been trained to be efficient killers and to never surrender. After ww1 the US downsized their navy in the Pacific and the Japanese built up their navy in the pacific. The Japanese decided to take over all of Asia and rule it from Tokyo, and this led to a conflict with the US. The Japanese sent a decoy delegate to the US to talk peace, and they had planned to Attacked the US while the delegate was in the US. The US had their pants down and if the Japanese had better planned the attack they could have bombed the west cost of the US. The Japanese were beating the US in the beginning of the war, and it took the battle of Midway to halt the Japanese expansion in the Pacific. The war in the Pacific was very brutal because when the Japanese were beaten they refused to surrender. You should read what the Japanese have written about the Imperial Japan and the western version to get an idea of Japan. Speaking of Americans being brutal, million of Africans are alive to today because of the US aid to these country to stop them from starving. In SA the government wouldn't setup an AIDS treatment program and many people died because of a lack of treatment. The US is the country that led the fight to setup the AIDS treatment program in SA and is paying for it while the president spends millions on his home. Make your case who is more barbaric the US or the SA government?

      Sterling Ferguson - 2013-09-21 17:01

      @Fidel, the slave trade is black Africa shame if they have any. The Africans traded off their people for three hundred years to the Arabs and Europeans for peanuts,and the people made millions form it. The black Africa sold their people for fifty cents,and these people were sold in the new world for two thousandth dollars. Since the African countries became independent, more people are in flight than any place in the world.

  • gerhardus.windpomp - 2012-08-06 12:13

    The Japanese are already getting them back. Flooding their automotive market with cheap and nasty Toyotas.

  • reza.daniels1 - 2012-08-06 12:36

    Most definitely and without a shadow of doubt the most shameful day in human history. Nuclear weapons should be banned outright. The human race cannot be trusted with it as has clearly been shown. We could very well end up wiping out our own species one day - the ultimate example of irony.

  • cindy.wrathex.ruthven - 2012-08-06 12:57

    A terrible event. I can never condone this, not for any reason and I pity the indoctrinated who foolishly really believe it was the right thing to do. This awful atrocity will never be forgotten by those of us who understand the incredble suffering of innocents during the event and up to this day. Let me fold an origami crane.

  • robin.stobbs.9 - 2012-08-07 12:43

    It is clear to me that most of you respondents to this news item are totally ignorant of the history behind the decision to use the atomic bomb on Japan. Of course it was a deadly weapon and will hopefully never be used again but do yourselves a favour and try reading this for starters: http://www.warhistoryonline.com/featured-article/did-truman-need-to-use-the-bomb-to-end-wwii.html

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