Thursday marks 70 years since the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima Japan.
Tens of thousands of Japanese people died in the initial attack.
Children, elderly survivors and delegates representing 100 countries were in the crowd with many placing flowers in front of the cenotaph at Peace Memorial Park. Hiroshima was the first city of the twin atomic bombings, with the second happening three days later in Nagasaki. Almost everything around it was incinerated by a wall of heat up to 4,000 degrees C, hot enough to melt steel.
“What more compelling argument could there be for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, especially as most of the bombs in the arsenals of nuclear armed states today are more powerful and destructive?”
Matsuyama and Takako Chiba, 73, both survivors of the August 6, 1945, bombing in Hiroshima, visited Baltimore as part of a trip to the United States to remember the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Kawasaki said he was about 2 miles away from the epicenter of the bomb, in the hospital seeking treatment for a ruptured appendix when he heard the blast of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.
At a time of increased military tensions between Japan and its neighbours, particularly China, Matsui Kazumi will call on world leaders not to forget the destruction of a city and the death of up to 166,000 of its people.
“Seventy years on, I re-emphasize the necessity of world peace”, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at the memorial service. Those at the Thursday’s ceremonies said they found strength and objective in their struggle to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Some 55,000 people, by official count, prayed in silence. “At the same time, it is our duty to disseminate the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons across the border of nations and generations”. They included U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Rose Gottemoeller, undersecretary of state for arms control.
Kawasaki and Mayor Charlie Hales spoke at a ceremony Thursday morning at Concordia University commemorating the bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A “Don’t repeat the war” conference was held, and choirs performed. The average age of the remaining survivors is 80, and the government of Japan will continue to assist them, he said.
“We are all growing older”, he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.