HIROSHIMA – A memorial service was held Friday in Hiroshima to mourn Korean victims of the U.S. atomic bombing there 71 years ago, including those who had been forcibly brought to Japan from the Korean Peninsula before and during World War II.
The Korean Peninsula was under Japan’s colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.
The annual ceremony took place in front of a monument at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, with some 300 participants attending, including atomic bomb survivors and officials of the South Korean consulate general in Hiroshima.
A list of Koreans killed in the attack on Aug. 6, 1945, and those who survived but have since died, was placed on the monument. The list bore the names of 2,723 people, including 12 who died over the past year.
Kim Won-soo, U.N. undersecretary-general and high representative for disarmament affairs, was also present at the event, and will join a ceremony organized by the Hiroshima city government to commemorate the bombing on Saturday.
“We gathered here with the belief that this past tragedy should not be repeated and that nuclear weapons should never be developed, secured or used, for the sake of the peace of humankind around the world,” Lee Yeong-jun, head of the Hiroshima prefectural chapter of the Korean Residents Union in Japan, said in a speech.
When U.S. President Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. leader to visit the atomic-bombed city in late May, he referred in a speech to the “thousands” of Korean victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
But the local branch of the Korean residents union, known as Mindan, said the estimated number of such victims could be as many as 20,000.
Hong Min-ki, a 16-year-old high school student on a study tour from Seoul, said, “I prayed that those who suffered from such terrible damage can rest in peace.”
“I hope many countries will negotiate in their efforts toward the elimination of nuclear weapons,” said the high school student.
On Thursday, the Hiroshima Municipal Government said representatives from 91 nations and the European Union are scheduled to attend Saturday’s anniversary ceremony.
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.
Four nations, including the United Arab Emirates and Congo, will be attending for the first time.
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