Tens of thousands of people from around the world gathered in Hiroshima on Saturday to mark the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city and to renew calls for the abolition of nuclear arms.
Under a blazing summer sun, survivors and families of victims assembled at the Peace Memorial Park near "ground zero," the spot where the bomb detonated on the morning of August 6, 1945, killing thousands and levelling the city.
At 8:15 am (local time), the time when the US B-29 warplane Enola Gay dropped the bomb, people at the park and throughout the city observed a minute's silence in memory of those who perished.
Bells at temples and churches rang and passengers on the streetcars that run throughout the city bowed their heads in remembrance of the dead, including those incinerated by the bomb 60 years ago while riding the streetcars.
"This August 6... is a time of inheritance, of awakening, and of commitment, in which we inherit the commitment of the bomb victims to the abolition of nuclear weapons and realization of genuine world peace," Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba told the gathering.
The Hiroshima bomb unleashed a mix of shockwaves, heat rays and radiation. By the end of 1945 the toll rose to some 140,000 out of an estimated population of 350,000. Thousands more succumbed to illness and injuries later.
A further 5,375 names were added to the list of Hiroshima's dead, bringing the total to 242,437.
Referring to moves to revise the pacifist constitution that Japan adopted after the war, Akiba said it was an obligation of the present generation to uphold the principle "thou shalt not kill."
"The Japanese Constitution, which embodies this axiom forever as the sovereign will of a nation, should be a guiding light for the world in the 21st century," he said.
Earlier this week, Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party released a draft containing a drastic change to the constitution, proposing that the military be allowed to act not only in self-defence but also to take part in global security efforts.
Although support for revising the core pacifist clause remains short of a majority, some Japanese right-wing politicians have talked of Japan having nuclear weapons, which shows that some ultra-nationalists have not realized Hiroshima's tragedy was caused by Japanese war criminals themselves.
Survivors, whose average age is now over 73, worry that as many of them pass away, so will memories of the bombing.
"Passing on the experience is our greatest concern," said Sunao Tsuboi, an 80-year-old survivor of the bombing who heads a group of victims.
"As we get old, even among victims the anger, that raging feeling towards the A-bomb, has waned ... August 6 is being played up this year as it's the 60th anniversary, but I wonder about next year."
Source: China Daily