Three days after Hiroshima was devastated by an atomic bomb attack, Nagasaki became the site of a second nuclear attack which claimed the lives of 70,000 people. Today, the citizens remember that fateful day in a ceremony that will also call on the Japanese people and government to help spread awareness of the deadly and painful consequences of nuclear arms.
Tens of thousands of people, including survivors, victims’ relatives, government officials and foreign delegates, gathered near Ground Zero and observed a moment of silence at exactly 11:02 am local time (0202 GMT) to remember the exact time when the plutonium bomb nicknamed Fat Man changed th course of Japanese history forever. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined the ceremony this year, together with representatives from 44 countries, the most number of international delegates to join the remembrance ceremony. An envoy from India, a country with a strong nuclear program and is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is joining the ceremony for the first time.
While historians are still debating whether or not the atomic bombings brought a faster end to World War II because it forced Japan to surrender, one thing this has done is unite the people of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the survivors who are called “hibakusha”, to oppose the military and civilian use of nuclear power. This is a hot button issue in the country not just because of the history but also because its over reliance on nuclear energy to power their electricity. Anti-nuclear sentiment became even more popular after the 2011 disasters which saw the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant suffer a meltdown, the worst accident since Chernobyl.
Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue will read out a peace declaration at the remembrance ceremony, which will include outright criticism of the Japanese government for refusing to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty last April. The statement says that whatever the circumstance is, nuclear power should not be used because it is inhumane. He will call on the Abe and his administration to revisit their stand on this issue, since Japan is the only country that has ever suffered a nuclear attack by another country. The government reportedly did not sign the treaty because of the US nuclear umbrella which will protect Japan from an attack from other countries who will choose to do so.
[ via NHK ]