Hiroshima anniversary: Minute’s silence observed 70 years on
A story of survival: 70 years on from Hiroshima
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy joined thousands of people on for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial to commemorate one of the most painful days in the country’s history.
Thursday marks 70 years since the the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on a civilian target. By the end of 1945, 140,000 out of the 350,000 people who lived in the city at the time died either directly from the blast or later from radiation sickness. Thousands more succumbed to illness and injuries later.
The United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki three days after Hiroshima. Japan surrendered on August 15.
This year’s anniversary comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to ease the constraints of Japan’s postwar, pacifist constitution on the military. Critics fear that could lead the nation again down a mistaken path to war, while proponents argue the change is needed to deter growing regional threats.
By the river near the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, which marks the area near the epicentre of the blast, Shinto priests gathered to offer prayers in the hope that the experience of Hiroshima is never repeated.
“We offered prayers for an end to all wars,” said 73-year old priest Yoshinobu Shinno.
Others were reminded of the pain their long-lost relatives might have gone through.
“It’s the 70th year and I feel it’s a landmark year. My grandfather died here at the time and I keep wondering what he felt then. He was just 21 years old and it pains me to think he died so young,” said 60-year-old former resident Tomiyo Sota, who now lives in another prefecture.
Japanese men, women and children held paper lanterns and walked around Hiroshima’s Atomic Bomb Dome on Wednesday as the city prepared to remember victims of the nuclear bombing 70 years ago.