HIROSHIMA – The Hiroshima Municipal Government said it expects representatives from a record 100 countries to attend its annual ceremony on Thursday to mark the U.S. atomic bombing, as peace activists gathered in the city.
The participants will include U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, who will be attending the event for the second year in a row after assuming her post in late 2013, and a senior U.S. State Department official in charge of arms control, according to the U.S. government.
Kennedy and Rose Gottemoeller, undersecretary of state foA memorial service was also held Korean victims of the atomic bombing, at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on Wednesday morning.r arms control and international security, will also attend a ceremony to be held on Sunday in Nagasaki, the other city devastated by a U.S. atomic bomb. It’s the first time that a high-level Washington official will attend the two ceremonies, according to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.
The move comes amid growing calls in Japan for U.S. President Barack Obama to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see the human consequences using nuclear weapons.
From the United Nations, Acting High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Kim Won-soo will attend the ceremony and read out a message from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Diplomats in Japan from nuclear powers Britain, France and Russia, as well as the European Union will also attend the ceremony, according to the Hiroshima Municipal Government.
A memorial service was also held for Korean victims of the atomic bombing, at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on Wednesday morning.
In the 46th memorial service, hosted by the Hiroshima regional headquarters of the pro-Seoul Korean Residents Union in Japan, or Mindan, Chim Sung-ui, head of the Hiroshima branch, vowed to make an all-out effort toward denuclearization.
“We have advocated the elimination of nuclear weapons for 70 years and passed, as witnesses, memories of the atomic bombing to the younger generations with a sense of responsibility,” Chim said.
At the ceremony, a list of 2,711 victims, including 22 who died within the last year, was placed in a monument. First-, second- and third-generation Korean female residents wearing traditional attire sang a requiem for the victims in front of some 200 participants, including bereaved families.
On Tuesday, peace campaigners from around the world gathered to attend annual conferences organized by major Japanese anti-nuclear groups to push for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
At a conference convened by the Japan Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs, known as Gensuikyo, 90-year-old atomic bomb survivor Sunao Tsuboi stressed the need to join forces to eliminate nuclear weapons, recalling his painful memories and physical suffering after experiencing the blast from about 1.2 km away.
“Illnesses caused by the atomic bomb continue to haunt me,” said Tsuboi, one of the chairpersons of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations.
He said he has been hospitalized a dozen times.
Muhammad Anshor, deputy permanent representative of Indonesia to the United Nations, said the horrific impact of nuclear weapons witnessed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is “one of the main driving forces” behind Indonesia’s support for a total ban on nuclear weapons.
“I hope the governments and civil society continue to work together in striving for a world without nuclear weapons,” he said.
Young peace activists from overseas also joined the event. Mary Popeo, a 23-year-old from Boston, expressed her eagerness to take back her experiences in Japan to encourage young people to act.
“A lot of people tell me . . . that because we’re young maybe you can’t make as much difference, and people say, ‘You have no experience of war,’ or ‘You’re not an expert in nuclear weapons so why are you doing this?’ But you do not need to be an expert in nuclear weapons to see the humanitarian consequences,” she said.
Another conference was held on Tuesday by the Japan Congress Against A- and H-Bombs, commonly known as Gensuikin.
Both Gensuikyo and Gensuikin will be holding anti-nuclear gatherings and other events in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki through Sunday.