Tokyo on Saturday marked the 73rd anniversary of the massive U.S. firebombing that killed over 80,000 people during the war, with a ceremony that saw some 600 people, including families of the victims, gather to commemorate those lost.
Prince Akishino, the younger son of Emperor Akihito, his wife, Princess Kiko, and Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike also attended the memorial service, which was held at a hall in Sumida Ward where the remains of many of the unidentified victims were placed.
Among other participants were Hideo Yoshida, 83, from the city of Fukushima, who has attended the annual ceremony for the past 30 years.
“I still think today that if there had been no war, everyone could have had different lives,” he said. Yoshida’s father went missing in the raids and his older sister suffered burns and died two years later.
Koike said: “It is our responsibility to pass on our knowledge (of the raid) to the next generation so that the tragedy of war will not be forgotten, as well as to protect the peace and safety of the world.”
In the early hours of March 10, 1945, some 300 U.S. B-29 bombers dropped incendiary bombs on the capital, particularly in densely populated areas, in what became known as the Great Tokyo Air Raid.
The number of victims registered on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s list is 81,058.
During the war, Tokyo was targeted by more than 100 bombing raids that destroyed 60 percent of the city, according to the Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage.
After the Great Tokyo Air Raid, the United States attacked other cities and towns across Japan, culminating in the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6 and Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945.
The war ended on Aug. 15 that year.