HIROSHIMA, Japan, Aug. 6 Hiroshima marked the 68th anniversary of the western Japanese city’s atomic bombing on Tuesday morning with representatives from 70 countries and the European Union, calling for a world order based on trust and dialogue.
The annual memorial ceremony, held at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in the city center, was attended by some 50,000 people including war survivors, bereaved family members and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Among them were also representatives from foreign countries and the European Union, including 32 ambassadors to Japan such as U.S. Ambassador John Roos.
All attendees offered a silent prayer at 8:15 a.m. local time, the time the bomb was dropped in 1945.
After the prayer, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui made this year’ s peace declaration, stating that the atomic bomb, which indiscriminately stole the lives of innocent people, is the ultimate inhumane weapon and an absolute evil.
He stressed that even as the survivor’s average age surpasses 78, they, who have overcome such terrible pain and sorrow, still hope for the world to share their longing for peace and to choose the right path.
The mayor then admonished policymakers of the world for their belief that they can continue to maintain national security by saber-rattling, urging them to shift to a system of security based on trust and dialogue without being trapped in the past.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke after the mayor’s speech, stating that the deaths caused by the nuclear attack were too terrible for the Japanese to describe, and that they, the Japanese people, have a responsibility to abolish nuclear weapons and to pass on their personal experience of terror caused by the bombing of Hiroshima.
Abe also promised in the morning to further increase his efforts to promote international disarmament and non-proliferation while firmly maintaining Japan’s Three Non-Nuclear Principles of not possessing, not producing and not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons into its soil.
After the memorial event, a 37-year-old father, working as a public servant in neighboring Okayama Prefecture, told Xinhua that he attended the ceremony with his sons because he thought people in his generation must play a key role in memorizing the tragedy and the lesson of peace today, 68 years after the blast.
Many memorial events are scheduled throughout the day including a ceremony in which more than 10,000 paper lanterns are floated down a river next to Hiroshima Memorial.