Hiroshima pledges nuclear ban at 77th monument amid Russian threat

TOKYO (AP) — Hiroshima on Saturday recalled the atomic bomb 77 years ago as officials, including the head of the United Nations, warned against building nuclear weapons and feared another such attack amid Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“Nuclear weapons are nonsense. “They do not guarantee any security – only death and destruction,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who attended the prayer at the Hiroshima Peace Park.

“We must ask what we learned from the mushroom cloud that rose over this city in 1945, three quarters of a century later,” he 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. Three days later, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing 70,000 more. Japan surrendered on August 15 and World War II It ended World War II and nearly half a century of Japanese aggression in Asia.

Fear of a third atomic bomb has grown amid threats of nuclear strikes since February, when Russia’s war against Ukraine began.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui accused Putin of “using his own people as instruments of war and stealing the lives and livelihoods of innocent civilians in another country”.

Saying that Russia’s war against Ukraine has helped bolster nuclear deterrence, Matsui urged the world not to repeat the mistakes that destroyed his city 77 years ago.

At 8:15 am on Saturday, when the US B-29 bombed the city, attendees, including government leaders and diplomats, stood in silence with the sound of the peace bell. About 400 pigeons, considered symbols of peace, were released.

Russia and its ally Belarus were not invited to this year’s peace memorial. Russian Ambassador to Japan Mikhail Galuzin presented flowers to a mausoleum in the park on Thursday and told reporters his country would never use nuclear weapons.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at the commemoration ceremony that the world continues to face threats from nuclear weapons.

“I must raise my voice to appeal to people around the world that the tragedy of the use of nuclear weapons should never be repeated,” he said. “Japan, no matter how narrow, steep or difficult, will continue to move towards a world without nuclear weapons.”

Kishida, who will host the Group of Seven summit meeting in Hiroshima next May, said he hopes to share with other G7 leaders “before the peace monument” to unite them to maintain international order and peace based on universal values ​​of freedom and liberty. democracy.

Matsui criticized nuclear weapon states, including Russia, for failing to take action despite their commitments to comply with obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“Instead of treating a world without nuclear weapons as a distant dream, they need to take concrete steps to make it happen,” he said.

Critics say Kishida’s call for a nuclear-free world is futile, as Japan remains under the US nuclear umbrella and continues to boycott the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty.

Kishida said the deal, lacking the United States and other nuclear powers, is currently unrealistic and Japan should bridge the gap between non-nuclear and nuclear powers.

Many survivors of the bombings have permanent injuries and illnesses and face discrimination in Japan due to explosions and radiation exposure.

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

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, as of March, 118,935 survivors who currently exceed the average age of 84 were documented as eligible for government medical support. But many still lack support, including those who say they are victims of the “black rain” falling outside of the originally designated areas.

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