Hiroshima Marks 78th Anniversary of Atomic Bombing, Condemns Nuclear Deterrence as a Mistake

Hiroshima Marks 78th Anniversary of Atomic Bombing

TOKYO: Japan solemnly marked the 78th anniversary of the US atomic bombing on Hiroshima on Sunday, as the city’s mayor passionately called for the abolition of nuclear weapons and criticized the concept of nuclear deterrence embraced by the Group of Seven leaders as a “folly.”

The anniversary comes at a time when Russia has raised concerns by hinting at the possible use of nuclear weapons in its war with Ukraine. Meanwhile, the biopic “Oppenheimer,” which chronicles the creation of the atomic bomb, has enjoyed success at the US box office. However, criticism has been directed at the film for neglecting the devastating impact of the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which occurred on August 6 and August 9, 1945, respectively.

In Japan, the release of “Oppenheimer” is still pending. Additionally, the distributor of the blockbuster film “Barbie,” which premiered on the same day as “Oppenheimer,” faced controversy for exploiting fan-made “Barbenheimer” memes that depicted the actors in the lead roles alongside images of nuclear explosions.

Hiroshima had previously been in the spotlight in May when Prime Minister Fumio Kishida hosted a G7 summit in the city. During the summit, G7 leaders expressed commitment to disarmament but asserted that as long as nuclear weapons existed, they should serve as a deterrent against aggression and war.

On the anniversary, a peace bell tolled at 8:15 a.m. (2315 GMT on Saturday), the exact time the bomb was dropped. Approximately 50,000 participants, including aging survivors, attended the outdoor memorial ceremony, observing a moment of silence amidst the sweltering summer heat reaching 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit).

At the ceremony, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui emphasized the urgent need for global leaders to acknowledge that the current nuclear threats voiced by certain policymakers reveal the inadequacy of nuclear deterrence theory. Prime Minister Kishida also spoke, acknowledging that the path towards a world without nuclear weapons is becoming more challenging due in part to Russia’s nuclear threats. Nonetheless, he emphasized the importance of revitalizing international momentum toward achieving this goal.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his support, urging more world leaders to visit Hiroshima and witness its monuments and resilient survivors. He stressed the need for collective efforts to pursue nuclear disarmament, as the drums of nuclear war seem to be beating once again.

The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, nicknamed “Little Boy,” claimed thousands of lives instantly and led to the death of approximately 140,000 individuals by the year’s end. Japan ultimately surrendered on August 15, 1945.

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