The bells rang in Hiroshima, Japan as the city celebrated the 77th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres joined the thousands of people crammed into the Peace Park in the city center on the anniversary of the bombing that killed 140,000 people before the end of 1945, just the second time a Secretary-General United Nations took part in the annual ceremony.
“Nuclear weapons don’t make sense. They don’t guarantee safety, only death and destruction,” Guterres said.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (center) attends the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6, 2022 in Hiroshima, Japan. Credit: Yuichi Yamazaki / Getty Images
“Three quarters of a century later, we have to ask ourselves what we learned from the cloud mushroom that swelled over this city in 1945.”
Guterres avoided a direct reference to Russia, which calls its invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation”.
At 8:15 am on August 6, 1945, the US warplane B-29 Enola Gay dropped a bomb dubbed the Little Boy and obliterated the city with an estimated population of 350,000. Thousands more people later died from radiation-related injuries and illnesses.
On Saturday, as cicadas screeched in the heavy summer air, the Peace Bell rang and the crowd, including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is from Hiroshima, observed a moment of silence at the exact moment the bomb exploded.
On Thursday, Russian Ambassador to Japan Mikhail Galuzin offered flowers on a tombstone in the park and told reporters that his nation would never use nuclear weapons.
Kishida, who has chosen Hiroshima as the site of next year’s Group of Seven summit, has called on the world to abandon nuclear weapons.
Earlier this week, he became the first Japanese leader to take part in the Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Parties Review Conference.
“We will continue towards the ideal of nuclear disarmament even given the current difficult security environment,” he said.
The Hiroshima catastrophe was followed by the US military’s atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, instantly killing more than 75,000 people.
Japan surrendered six days later, ending World War II.