Hiroshima mayor criticizes Russia as he marks 77th anniversary of atomic bombing

Japan today celebrates the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, which killed tens of thousands of people in World War II.

WARNING: This story contains graphics that may disturb some readers.

The bells rang in Hiroshima on Saturday, commemorating the world’s first atomic bombing, in which officials including the United Nations Secretary-General warned of a new arms race in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

At 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, the American B-29 fighter plane Enola Gay dropped a bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” and destroyed the city, which had an estimated population of 350,000.

Estimates of the number of deaths from the bomb, either immediately or in subsequent months, range between 90,000 and 166,000.

Ruins of Hiroshima.
Hiroshima was destroyed after the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945.(Public domain)

However, the bomb would claim the lives of thousands of others as the effects of radiation took their toll.

About 70 percent of the city’s buildings were destroyed and another 7 percent heavily damaged.

Members of the British Commonwealth Occupational Forces help clear Hiroshima after World War II.
Members of the British Commonwealth Occupational Force helped clean up after World War II.(Delivered: Harry Fennell)

Three days later, a second bomb was detonated in Nagasaki, killing an estimated 70,000 more.

Japan capitulated days later, on August 15, 1945, ending the war.

A mushroom cloud from a nuclear explosion.
Three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, a second was dropped on Nagasaki. (Reuters/The National Archives)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres joined thousands of people gathered in the Peace Park in the center of the city to celebrate the anniversary of the bombing, only the second time a UN leader has participated in the annual ceremony.

“Nuclear weapons are nonsense,” Guterres said.

“They don’t guarantee safety – only death and destruction.

Black and white photo of rubble, blackened tree and shells of buildings in the distance.
The atomic bomb dome was the only building that survived the explosion. (Delivered: American National Archives)
A domed building in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
The building still stands in front of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.(AP: Kyodo News)

“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 the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida offers a wreath at the cenotaph.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida offered a wreath at the cenotaph.(Reuters: Kyodo)

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.

People pray at a cenotaph.
People have prayed for the cenotaph for the victims of the atomic bomb in 1945, on the 77th birthday.(Reuters: Kyodo)

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

“These mistakes betray humanity’s determination, born of our wartime experiences, to achieve a peaceful world free of nuclear weapons.

“Accepting the status quo and renouncing the ideal of peace maintained without military force is a threat to the survival of humanity.”

ABC/Reuters

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