Hiroshima marks the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing

Residents of Hiroshima celebrate the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing that devastated the city in the final days of World War II. Thousands of people gathered Saturday morning for an annual ceremony at the city’s Peace Memorial Park.

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio was joined by representatives from 99 countries, as well as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the first UN chief to attend the event in 12 years.

More than 3,000 members of the public also turned out for the ceremony, a substantial increase in crowds in 2020 and 2021, the first two years of the coronavirus pandemic.

Authorities placed a list of the victims of the bombing in a cenotaph, after adding the names of 4,978 people who died or were confirmed dead in the past year. The total now stands at 333,907.

Attendees paused for a moment of silence at 8:15 a.m., the exact time the United States dropped the bomb on August 6, 1945. The explosion and subsequent fallout killed an estimated 140,000 people at the end of this year and exposed to much more harmful radiation. .

Seventy-seven years later, the nuclear weapons abolition movement faces significant challenges. Russia threatens to use them against Ukraine, and more and more countries say they are an important deterrent against attacks.

In his peace statement, Hiroshima Mayor Matsui Kazumi noted that people around the world increasingly believe that nuclear deterrence is a prerequisite for peace.

But he said the only way to fundamentally ensure the protection of life and property is to get rid of nuclear weapons completely. He urged leaders of nuclear states to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the other Japanese cities decimated by a nuclear bomb, to see for themselves the consequences of a nuclear attack.

Prime Minister Kishida Fumio told the assembly that Japan would embark on the path to a world without nuclear weapons “as narrow, rocky and difficult as it may be”. He said Japan would pursue this goal despite global security tensions and while abiding by the three principles of not possessing, producing or permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons into the country.

The average age of atomic bomb survivors is now over 84, meaning their dream of one day seeing a world without nuclear weapons is fading.