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.
Most important points:
- Hiroshima mayor has criticized Russian invasion of Ukraine as he commemorates bombing of his city
- Today is the 77th anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on the city
- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres joined the thousands packed in the Peace Park
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.”