TOKYO – The Japanese city of Nagasaki commemorated on Friday the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombing that devastated its civilian population at the end of World War II with a ceremony in which local authorities urged the central government, the United States and Russia to join the United Nations’ anti-nuclear treaty.
The nuclear attack carried out by the US on Aug. 9, 1945, on Nagasaki was the second time the atomic bomb had been deployed following the one on Hiroshima three days earlier. It killed around 74,000 people, mostly civilians.
The ceremony included a minute’s silence at 11:02 am local time, the exact time when the “Fat Man” bomb exploded over the city in southwestern Japan.
After the silent tribute, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and survivors of the bombing gave solemn speeches highlighting the importance of a world free from nuclear weapons during a ceremony attended by representatives from around 70 countries.
The city’s mayor urged the governments of the US, Russia and Japan to act responsibly and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that was signed by 122 countries in 2017, with the notable exception of the world’s nuclear powers and their allies.
Taue said that efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons were collapsing, and there was a growing risk of the destructive arms being used again.
He underlined that the situation was extremely dangerous and urged the nuclear-armed states to act while accusing the Japanese government of not supporting the global anti-nuclear movement despite being the only country in history to have suffered nuclear bombings.
The Japanese prime minister, on his part, just said that his country would do everything possible in the endeavor to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.
The anniversaries of the bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki this year come on the heels of the US formally pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty after accusing Moscow of noncompliance.
The INF treaty was signed in 1987 by the erstwhile USSR and the US to contain weapons escalation during the Cold War and was considered a crucial move that helped bring about an end to the decades-long conflict between the Western and Eastern blocs.
The Nagasaki ceremony took place a few months ahead of Pope Francis’ planned visit in November, which will be the first papal trip to the Japanese city since John Paul II visited in 1981.
The cataclysmic nuclear attacks on the two strategic Japanese cities led to the Empire’s surrender in World War II six days after the Nagasaki bombings.