Hiroshima, the city that suffered US atomic bombing in 1945 during World War II, commemorated on Sunday the 72nd anniversary of the tragedy, with its mayor calling for peace and a world free of nuclear weapons.
Over 50,000 people, including survivors of the attack, their descendants, peace activists and representatives from about 80 countries, attended the ceremony at the Peace Memorial Park, Xinhua news agency reported.
Mayor Kazumi Matsui in a peace declaration to the audience mentioned the loss of lives and culture and the sufferings caused by the bombing.
He urged the Japanese government to “do all in its power” to facilitate a nuclear weapon-free world.
The mayor urged the government to give more support to the victims of the attack and “many others who also suffered mentally and physically from the effects of radiation”.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a speech at the ceremony made no mention of the historical background for the bombings or the country’s war against its neighbours.
“By firmly maintaining our three non-nuclear principles (not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear weapons on Japanese territory) and continuing to appeal to both nuclear and non-nuclear states, Japan is determined to lead the international community,” he said.
While Abe spoke, shouts of protest rang out from around the park, against his long-held ambition of revising the pacifist Constitution and other policies that could bring Japan to war.
Hundreds of protesters gathered around the park, holding banners and shouting slogans such as “Oppose war and Constitution revision” and “Abe shall step down”.
“I’m against Abe attending this ceremony, for his administration only protects the interests of some people and he tries to revise the pacifist Constitution and could drag Japan into war,” said Takehiko Matsumoto, a protester from Sendai.
To accelerate Japan’s surrender in the WWII, the US dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively on August 6 and August 9 in 1945.
Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces on August 15, bringing an end to WWII.