Hiroshima marks 69th anniversary of atomic bombing


Hiroshima marked the 69th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing Wednesday, as survivors of the attack and others gathered at the city’s Peace Memorial Park early in the morning to pay their respects and to attend an annual ceremony commemorating the event.

At the ceremony, held just a few hundred meters from the hypocenter of the bombing, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui called on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to work to bridge the gap between nuclear weapons states and the rest of the world in the quest for global nuclear disarmament.

While refraining from directly mentioning his stance on collective self-defense, an issue that sharply divides peace advocates, Matsui said that, “precisely because our security situation is increasingly severe, our government should accept the full weight of the fact that we have avoided war for 69 years thanks to the noble pacifism of the Japanese Constitution.”

The anniversary comes ahead of next year’s review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the cornerstone of the international nuclear disarmament regime.

Attendees at the ceremony this year included Abe, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, and representatives from 67 other countries, including nuclear powers Britain, France and Russia, according to city officials.

On Aug. 6, 1945, the U.S. bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, ushering in the nuclear age. The bomb, nicknamed “Little Boy,” detonated at 8:15 a.m. at an altitude of about 600 meters, leaving an estimated 140,000 people dead by the end of the year.

A second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9 of that year. Japan surrendered to Allied Forces six days later, bringing an end to World War II.

The number of hibakusha from both bombings living in Japan and abroad stood at 192,719 as of late March, falling below 200,000 for the first time. Their average age was 79.44.

  • Aaron Tovish

    With the average age of the Hibakusha now at 80, that means
    that most of the remaining survivors were less than 11 years old
    when the bomb struck. I think we can all agree that they and the
    over 40,000 children who were killed in 1945 were total innocents,
    underscoring the purely indiscriminant nature of this weapon of
    mass destruction. Far, far more children were killed than soldiers!

    Mayors for Peace and Peace Boat will be cooperating to highlight
    this next year leading up to the 70th anniversary. See our
    Facebook page: Project: “I was her age.”

    One criticism of the article: placing the bombing and the
    surrender one sentence after the other reinforces the myth of
    cause and effect. The historical record exposes this myth as
    false. The mode of surrender was already under active
    consideration by the Japanese due to the military onslaught of US
    and British forces. Their hand was forced when previously neutral
    Soviet Union joined in the onslaught on August 7, 1945. When announcing the surrender, the Emperor cited the new atomic weapon as a means of saving face for the disgraced Japanese army.

    The US knew months in advance the
    exact timing of the Russian attack and ought, in my opinion,
    to have waited to see the impact of it before committing the atrocity
    of incinerating two cities.

  • JohnCCalhounfromSC

    I guess they didn’t bother to interview any relatives of the Dec 7th attack on Pearl Harbor, or the victims who died on the Bataan Death March in 1942 or the victims of the Naking Massacre in 1937. Seems to me their view on history is a bit one sided. And I have been to both the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and the USS Arizona Memorial within the last 6 months.

  • DonKrieger

    Remember the Context:

    The first great act of the cold war was the partition of Europe by the Soviet Union and the US/Great Britain alliance.

    The second great act of the cold war was the obliteration of two defenseless Japanese cities with nuclear weapons by the United States. It’s primary purpose was to make clear to the Soviet Union that we had the means and the political will to cause them devastating harm. And that was its primary long term political effect.

    The notion that this act saved hundreds of thousands of American lives which would have been needed to end the war and to occupy and pacify Japan was propaganda then and it’s propaganda now. Japan was already defeated. Its ability to threaten American forces in the Pacific both by sea and by air was gone. And there was no need to occupy and pacify Japan. There was no threat within Japan of impending civil war. There was no threat of invasion of Japan by some other nation due to its vulnerability.

    I am horrified that our trusted government carried out this unnecessary and inhuman act of brutality. There is no way to step back from it or to amend it.

    I am alarmed and ashamed that we as a nation were then and are to this day still so readily willing to accept empty arguments to justify an act of ultimate cowardice, snuffing out the lives of 150,000+ lives in an instant for no reason.


  • wada

    Kennedy should attend the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima with your president next year and also visit The Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage, please.

  • Ostap Bender

    The nuclear bombings were war crimes. I won’t be sad if some country drops a couple on American cities.

  • ed martinez

    1997 I met a whole family from ISRAEL in Auschwitz, Poland, among them there was a little boy of name Lior, his grandfather Leev was with him, the old man was a KZ Auschwitz´s survivor.

  • David Victor Furman

    Note that the Japanese are removing a memorial to Korean victims of Japan. Unfortunately many Japanese have a rather one sided view of what happened in WWII and think that it all began with an unprovoked nuclear attack on 6 August 1945.