Japan commemorated the 78th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing on Hiroshima on Sunday, with Hiroshima’s mayor, Kazumi Matsui, urging the world to abolish nuclear weapons and denouncing the notion of nuclear deterrence embraced by the Group of Seven leaders as a “folly.”
The somber day of remembrance coincided with Russia’s recent threats of using nuclear weapons in its conflict with Ukraine.
The release of the biopic “Oppenheimer,” a film that chronicles the creation of the atomic bomb and has become a box-office hit in the United States, sparked controversy for overlooking the devastating destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which were bombed three days later.
However, the film’s release in Japan remains pending.
In another controversial move, the distributor of “Barbie,” a blockbuster film released on the same day as “Oppenheimer,” sparked outrage by exploiting fan-created “Barbenheimer” memes that depicted the actors alongside images of nuclear blasts.
Hiroshima garnered international attention earlier in May when Prime Minister Fumio Kishida hosted a G7 summit in the city.
The G7 leaders expressed their commitment to disarmament but asserted that as long as nuclear weapons existed, they should serve as a deterrent against aggression and war.
On the anniversary day, the city’s Peace Memorial Park saw about 50,000 participants in an outdoor memorial ceremony, including aging survivors.
At 8:15 a.m., the time the bomb was dropped, a peace bell tolled, and a moment of silence was observed as the summer heat soared to 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit).
Mayor Kazumi Matsui addressed the gathering, calling on leaders worldwide to acknowledge the danger posed by nuclear threats from certain policymakers, highlighting the flaws in nuclear deterrence theory.
Prime Minister Kishida acknowledged the challenging path towards a world without nuclear weapons, partly due to Russia’s threats, but stressed the importance of reigniting international momentum towards that goal.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his support for nuclear disarmament, urging more world leaders to visit Hiroshima, learn from its monuments, and listen to the stories of its courageous survivors to strengthen their commitment to this cause.
He emphasized that the drums of nuclear war were echoing once again.
The bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, known as “Little Boy,” claimed thousands of lives instantly and led to approximately 140,000 deaths by the end of that year.
The catastrophic event ultimately contributed to Japan’s surrender on August 15.
As the world remembers this tragic chapter in history, the call for disarmament and a future free from nuclear weapons remains an urgent and essential global pursuit.