Hiroshima prays for peace, fears new arms race on atomic bombing anniversary

TOKYO, Aug. 6 (Reuters) – The bells rang in Hiroshima on Saturday as the city marked the 77th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing, with officials including the United Nations Secretary-General warning of a new arms race following the Russian invasion from Ukraine.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, and soon after, Russian President Vladimir Putin had brushed aside the possibility of a nuclear attack. The conflict has also raised concerns about the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres joined thousands crammed into the Peace Park in the center of the city to mark the anniversary of the bombing that left 140,000 dead before the end of 1945, only the second time a UN secretary has General participated in the annual ceremony .

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“Nuclear weapons are nonsense. They don’t guarantee security – only death and destruction,” Guterres said.

“Three quarters of a century later, we have to ask ourselves what we learned from the mushroom cloud that swelled over this city in 1945.”

Guterres dodged a direct mention of Russia calling the invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation.”

Hiroshima mayor Kazumi Matsui, whose city did not invite the Russian ambassador to the ceremony this year, was sharper and more critical of Moscow’s military actions in Ukraine.

“When invading Ukraine, the Russian leader, chosen to protect the lives and property of his people, uses them as instruments of war and steals the lives and livelihoods of civilians in another country,” Matsui said.

“Across the world, the idea that peace depends on nuclear deterrence is gaining traction,” Matsui added.

“These mistakes betray the determination of humanity, born of our wartime experiences, to achieve a peaceful world free of nuclear weapons. Accepting the status quo and renounce the ideal of peace maintained without military force constitutes a threat to the survival of humanity.”

On August 6, 1945 at 8:15 AM, the American B-29 fighter plane Enola Gay dropped a bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” and destroyed the city with an estimated population of 350,000. Thousands later died from injuries and radiation-related illnesses.

On Saturday, as crickets chimed in the heavy summer air, the peace bell sounded and the crowd, including Hiroshima Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, observed a moment of silence at the exact moment the bomb exploded.

“Early this year, the five nuclear-weapon states issued a joint statement: ‘A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,'” Matsui added.

‘Why don’t they try to keep their promises? Why do some even hint at the use of nuclear weapons?’

On Thursday, Russian Ambassador to Japan Mikhail Galuzin offered flowers at a memorial stone in the park and told reporters that his country would never use nuclear weapons. read more

Kishida, who has chosen Hiroshima as the site for next year’s Group of Seven summit, called on the world to give up nuclear weapons.

Earlier this week, he became the first Japanese leader to participate in the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPV). read more

“We will continue toward the ideal of nuclear disarmament, even given today’s difficult security environment,” he said.

The Hiroshima catastrophe was followed by the US military’s atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, which killed more than 75,000 people in one fell swoop. Japan capitulated six days later, ending World War II.

In Hiroshima, Kishida Guterres also said he strongly condemned recent ballistic missile launches in China as “a serious problem related to the security of Japan and the security of the Japanese people,” according to a Saturday press release issued by the ministry. of Foreign Affairs.

Kishida echoed the phrases he used the day before during a meeting with Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, whose visit to Taiwan this week led to an angry China holding unprecedented live-fire drills that landed five missiles in the exclusive economic zone of Japan. read more

Kishida said he would work closely with Guterres in the wake of China’s action that “seriously affects the peace and stability of the international community,” the release said.

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Reporting by Elaine Lies; Additional reporting by Kantaro Komiya; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Kim Coghill

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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