HIROSHIMA – The Hiroshima city government said Thursday representatives from 91 nations and the European Union are scheduled to attend its annual ceremony on Saturday to commemorate the U.S. atomic bombing in 1945.
Among the recognized nuclear weapons states, Britain, France, Russia and the United States are expected to send diplomats to the ceremony in the city’s Peace Memorial Park, but China will not.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, who attended the past two anniversary ceremonies, will not be present this year, the city government said. Kennedy accompanied Barack Obama on his historic trip to Hiroshima in May when he became the first U.S. president to visit an atomic-bombed city.
Kennedy will be in the United States due to official duties, the U.S. Embassy said Wednesday.
The number of nations sending representatives to the ceremony this year will be the second-highest on record, after 100 nations last year that marked the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings.
The ceremony has drawn representatives from about 70 nations each year. A city government official attributed the increase in the number of country representatives this year to Obama’s visit to Hiroshima and last year’s ceremony.
From the United Nations, Kim Won-soo, undersecretary-general and high representative for disarmament affairs, will attend the ceremony to read a message from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Four nations, including the United Arab Emirates and Congo, will be attending for the first time.
The city has called on 157 nations and the European Union to take part in the 45-minute ceremony that will begin at 8 a.m. A minute’s silence will be observed at 8:15 a.m., the time when the world’s first atomic bomb exploded over the city on Aug. 6, 1945, killing an estimated 140,000 people by the end of that year.
The municipal government, for the first time, will take diplomats after the ceremony on a tour to observe atomic-bombed buildings near ground zero. The diplomats will also be provided with explanations by experts during the tour, the local government said, adding that 18 nations have applied for the tour.
Meanwhile, peace activists from around the world gathered for annual conferences organized by major Japanese anti-nuclear groups to push for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
At a conference held by the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs, known as Gensuikyo, Sergio Duarte, former U.N. high representative for disarmament affairs, stressed the importance of a legally binding treaty to ban nuclear weapons.
Noting reluctance on the part of the nuclear weapons states and their allies, the former Brazilian diplomat said such countries forget that “a nuclear war will have no victors. All those involved in the conflict will be losers.”
Another conference was held the same day by the Japan Congress Against A- and H- Bombs, commonly known as Gensuikin.
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