Hiroshima – The Hiroshima Municipal Government said Friday it will drastically downsize this year’s peace memorial ceremony for the atomic bombing due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The ceremony on Aug. 6 will mark the 75th anniversary of the city’s destruction during World War II. The number of seats for participants for will be reduced to a maximum of 880, about 10 percent of the usual level.
The municipal government plans to invite atomic bomb survivors and relatives of the victims to the ceremony without preparing seats for general participants to prevent further coronavirus infections.
Seats will be placed on the grass in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with 2 meters between each chair. The city initially planned to provide 11,500 seats.
The city will also consider measures to control people’s movements around the site to prevent people from gathering in crowds to watch the ceremony.
It is considering inviting ambassadors to attend because it appears difficult for the leaders of foreign countries and international organizations to attend this year’s ceremony.
Hiroshima plans to ask U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who had expressed willingness to attend the ceremony, to send a video message instead.
A plan for group singing by Hiroshima citizens will be canceled, with performances involving a piano that survived the bombing and a solo singer set to take place instead.
At a news conference on Friday, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said that the ceremony is a chance “for people to empathize with people who experienced the bombing and share feelings common to all humankind,” calling on people to watch it on TV and elsewhere.
Hiroshima was destroyed by the U.S. atomic bombing on Aug. 6, 1945, in the closing days of the war.