Japan, UN remind ‘lessons of Nagasaki’

The Ukraine war drives fears of another atomic bombing

DOVES are released into the air during a memorial ceremony at the Peace Park in Nagasaki, Japan to mark the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city during World War II. | JIJI PRESS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

August 10, 2022

TOKYO (AFP) — Nuclear weapons present a “tangible and present crisis” after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the mayor of Nagasaki said Tuesday, the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing that destroyed the Japanese city.

“The use of nuclear weapons is not a ‘groundless fear’ but a ‘tangible and present crisis,’” Mayor Tomihisa Taue said, warning that they could be unleashed through mistaken judgements, malfunctions or in terror attacks.

Instead of waging war, mankind should foster “a ‘culture of peace’ that spreads trust, respects others and seeks resolutions through dialogue,” Taue said.

A message from United Nations head Antonio Guterres, read out in Japanese at Tuesday’s ceremony, said that “in these times of high tensions and low levels of trust, we should draw on the lessons of Nagasaki.”

Japan has long called for a world free of nuclear weapons but has not joined a nuclear ban treaty that took effect in 2021, saying it hopes to bridge the gap between nuclear powers which did not join the treaty and non-nuclear countries.

On 9 August 1945, Nagasaki was flattened in an inferno that killed 74,000 people, three days after the world’s first nuclear bomb attack in Hiroshima.

The twin strikes by the United States led to the end of World War II, and to this day Japan remains the only country to be hit by atomic weapons in wartime.

Survivors and foreign dignitaries joined by hundreds of members of the public offered a silent prayer at 11:02 a.m. (0202 GMT), the exact moment the bomb was dropped on the port city.

Bells rang out and doves were released during the somber memorial at Nagasaki’s Peace Park, with purified water offered in a prayer ceremony for the victims who died of burns and other injuries.


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