Japan on Thursday marked 75 years since the world’s first atomic bomb attack, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing a scaling back of ceremonies to remember the victims.
Survivors, relatives and a handful of foreign dignitaries attended this year’s main event in Hiroshima to pray for those killed or wounded in the bombing and call for world peace.
But the general public was kept away, with the ceremony instead broadcast online.
Participants, many of them dressed in black and wearing face masks, offered a silent prayer at exactly 8:15 am (2315 GMT Wednesday), the time the first nuclear weapon used in wartime was dropped over the city.
Speaking afterwards, Hiroshima mayor Kazumi Matsui warned against the nationalism that led to World War II and urged the world to come together to face global threats, like the coronavirus pandemic.
“We must never allow this painful past to repeat itself. Civil society must reject self-centred nationalism and unite against all threats,” he said.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been criticised by some for his attempts to revise a key pacifist clause of the country’s constitution, pledged in his address to “do my best for the realisation of a world without nuclear weapons and peace for all time”.
And UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who addressed the gathering by video message because of the pandemic, warned that “the only way to totally eliminate nuclear risk is to totally eliminate nuclear weapons”.
The bomb attack on Hiroshima killed around 140,000 people, many of them instantly, with others perishing in the weeks and months that followed, suffering radiation sickness, devastating burns and other injuries.
Three days later, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, where 74,000 people were killed.