Japan reflects on 74th anniversary of world's first atomic bombing

People in Japan took a moment on Tuesday to pause and remember the victims of a catastrophic event they can never forget. On August 6, 1945, an American warplane dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Tens of thousands died in an instant. An estimated 140,000 people had lost their lives by the end of the year.


About 50,000 people attended the 2019 Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, including representatives of 92 countries.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui placed a list of all the victims in a cenotaph. It included the names of 5,068 people who died in the last year, bringing the total number commemorated to 319,186.

The city fell silent at 8:15 a.m. -- 74 years to the minute after the bomb struck.

People pause to remember the events of August 6, 1945.

Matsui read a peace declaration featuring a short poem by a survivor who was five years old when the bomb was dropped.

"Little sister with a bowl cut
Head spraying blood
Embraced by Mother
Turned raging Asura"

The author was remembering her mother's fury after her younger sister was injured in the attack.

The mayor urged the Japanese government to listen to the voices of the survivors, known as hibakusha, and sign and ratify a UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

Kazumi Matsui, Hiroshima Mayor.

Nuclear powers like the US and Russia don't support the treaty. Neither does Japan, which relies on the protection of the US.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe maintains that Japan will not join the pact, saying his government's goals are the same, but its approach is different.

He vowed to continue efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons:

"We are determined to serve as a bridge between nuclear-armed states and non-nuclear-armed states, persistently urge dialogue by winning cooperation from both sides, and lead the efforts made by the global community."

Shinzo Abe, Japanese Prime Minister.

People from across the country and around the world reflected on the tragedy and are calling for peace.

A woman who lost her mother from the effects of radiation said she wants to deliver the message that survivors have to work together for world peace.

The Peace Memorial Ceremony draws visitors from around the world each year.

An attendee from Switzerland said Hiroshima is an example of something that should never happen. He said he was concerned by world powers taking steps that only lead further away from a nuclear-free world.

And a British man who came to Hiroshima with his family said it was an important day for his children to think about nuclear weapons and how to achieve peace without them.

The hibakusha are growing older and fewer in number -- their average age is now over 82. That makes their message increasingly urgent, as they want people, not only in Japan, but around the world, to keep the legacy of Hiroshima alive for future generations.
With one voice, they make it clear that history must never be allowed to repeat itself.