Japan has marked the 72nd anniversary of the United States’ nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, expressing a desire to lead the world toward the abolition of atomic weapons.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended and spoke at an annual ceremony for the victims of the 1945 nuclear attack at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park near ground zero on Sunday.
He said Tokyo hoped to push for a world without nuclear weapons in a way that was acceptable to all countries.
“For us to truly pursue a world without nuclear weapons, we need participation from both nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states,” Abe said in his speech.
“Our country is committed to leading the international community by encouraging both sides” to make progress toward abolishing nuclear arms, he added.
Japan last month dismissed a United Nations treaty banning atomic weapons on the grounds that the treaty deepened a divide between countries with and without nuclear arms.
None of the nine countries and regimes that possess nuclear weapons took part in the negotiations or vote on the treaty, either.
Japanese officials routinely argue that they abhor nuclear weapons. Nonetheless, Japan’s defense is firmly set under the US nuclear umbrella.
The United States twice hit Japan with nuclear weapons at the end of World War II — in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and in Nagasaki three days later. The bombings claimed the lives of 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 74,000 people in Nagasaki. Many died immediately while others succumbed to injuries or radiation-related illnesses weeks, months, and years later.
Japan announced its surrender in World War II on August 15, 1945.
In May last year, then US President Barack Obama made a historic visit to the ground zero in Hiroshima and paid tribute to the victims of the US atomic bombings.
Obama, however, stopped short of apologizing for the bombings and the colossal loss of life.