On the morning of August 6 1945, an American B-29 bomber named Enola Gay dropped a bomb weighing 4,080 kilograms –deceptively called Little Boy –on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, and the world changed for ever.
It was the first time an atomic bomb was ever used in combat. The attack killed up to 140,000 people; a similar attack on Nagasaki three days later killed another 70,000 thousand and forced Japan’s surrender in World War II on August 15, 1945.
On August 6, Japan marked the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The occasion was sombre as around 45,000 people stood for a minute of silence at the ceremony in Hiroshima’s Peace Park.
Hiroshima’s Mayor Kazumi Matsui passionately urged US President Barack Obama and other leaders of nuclear-armed nations to visit the city to witness first-hand the devastation that such a destructive weapons can cause.
“President Obama and all leaders of nuclear-armed nations, please respond to that call by visiting the A-bombed cities as soon as possible to see what happened with your own eyes,” said Matsui adding, “If you do, you will be convinced that nuclear weapons are an absolute evil that must no longer be allowed to exist.”
Even after 69 years there is a strong anti-nuclear sentiment in Japan. This was made evident in 2011 when cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were destroyed, sparking concerns of a nuclear crisis as the reactor meltdown spread radiation over a large areas. Thousands were forced to leave there homes.
The pacifist and anti-nuclear movement in Japan is fuelled in part by the large, but decreasing, number of surviving victims of the atomic bombing, known as “hibakusha”.
With an average age of 79, the testimonies of these estimated 190,000 hibakushas continue to be a collective conscious against man’s sinister ability to destroy himself and his world.
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