The Japanese city of Hiroshima on Saturday commemorated the 71st anniversary of the atomic bomb that killed thousands of people at the end of the Second World War, and urged world leaders to visit the city.
The ceremony, held at the city’s Peace Park located near the hypocentre of the nuclear explosion, began with a one-minute silence at 8.15 a.m., recalling the exact time on August 6, 1945 when the US Air Force’s B-29 Enola Gay dropped ‘Little Boy’ – the world’s first nuclear bomb, EFE news reported.
The city’s mayor Kazumi Matsui urged world leaders to follow in US President Barack Obama’s footsteps and visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki – the site of a second atomic bomb – in order to understand the impact of the nuclear bombings.
In May, Obama became the first occupant of the White House to officially visit the city.
The ceremony was attended by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and representatives from 91 countries including Britain, France and Russia, as well as youth from the city and the bombing’s survivors (collectively known as ‘hibakusha’ in Japan).
The bomb was dropped in Hiroshima 71 years ago, immediately claiming the lives of around 80,000 people. By the year-end the death count had risen to 140,000, and in later years more than double the number had succumbed to radiation.
The bombing of Nagasaki three days later on August 9, 1945 forced Japan to surrender, bringing an end of the Second World War.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the only cities in the world that have suffered a nuclear bomb attack.
In March, there were a total of 174,080 survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, compared to 372,264 in 1980, and their average age was 80 years.