Hiroshima Celebrates 76th Anniversary of the US Atomic Bomb Drop | World information

By MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) – Hiroshima marked Friday the 76th

Mayor Kazumi Matsui urged world leaders to stand up for nuclear disarmament as seriously as they fight a pandemic that the international community recognizes as a “threat to humanity”.

“Nuclear weapons designed to win wars pose a threat of total annihilation that we can safely end if all nations work together,” Matsui said.

The United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, destroying the city and killing 140,000 people. It dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki three days later, killing an additional 70,000 people. Japan surrendered on August 15th, ending World War II and its almost half-century aggression in Asia.

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But countries stored nuclear weapons during the Cold War and a stalemate continues to this day.

Matsui reiterated his call for the Japanese government to sign and ratify the Nuclear Weapons Treaty “immediately”.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga made no mention of the treaty in his speech at the ceremony at Hiroshima Peace Park where aging survivors, officials and some dignitaries observed a minute’s silence for the 8:15 a.m. blast. At a press conference later, Suga said he had no intention of signing the contract.

“The treaty lacks support not only from nuclear-armed states, including the United States, but also from many that do not have nuclear weapons,” Suga said. “It is appropriate to look for a passage that realistically promotes nuclear disarmament.”

The World Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty went into effect in January after years of civilian efforts by the atomic bomb survivors or Hibakusha. But while more than 50 countries have ratified it, the treaty lacks the US and other nuclear powers in particular, as well as Japan, which has relied on the US nuclear umbrella for its defense since the end of the war.

After the ceremony, Suga apologized for accidentally skipping parts of his speech. Parts that were dropped included his promise, as the head of the only country in the world to have suffered nuclear attacks, to make efforts to achieve a nuclear weapons-free world, aware of the inhumanity of nuclear weapons, according to his speech published in the Prime Minister’s office.

Some said Suga skipped these parts of his speech in what could be viewed as government hypocrisy regarding nuclear disarmament and the treatment of atomic bomb survivors.

“The important point is that his heart wasn’t just there,” former Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba said at an online press conference later Friday, referring to Suga.

Many survivors of the bombings have permanent injuries and illnesses related to the bombs and radiation exposure and have faced discrimination in Japanese society.

The government began providing medical assistance to certified survivors in 1968 after more than 20 years of efforts by survivors.

In March, 127,755 survivors, whose median age is now nearly 84, were certified as Hibakusha and eligible for government medical assistance, according to the Department of Health and Welfare.

Suga announced last month that medical benefits would be extended to 84 Hiroshima survivors who were denied assistance because they were outside a government-set limit. The victims were exposed to the radioactive “black rain” that fell in the city after the bombing and struggled for a long time to have their health problems recognized.

Matsui urged the Suga government to further expand support and provide generous aid quickly to all those still suffering from the physical and emotional effects of radiation, including black rain survivors who were not part of the lawsuit.

Thursday’s ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was scaled down significantly because of the coronavirus pandemic and was also dwarfed by the Tokyo Olympics, where even NHK national television quickly switched to the games after the keynote speeches.

Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

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