Survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bomb have marked the 75th anniversary of the attack with prayers and flowers at the city’s memorial to the victims.
With each passing year the number of hibakusha, as the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known in Japan, shrinks.
The average age is now 83, but they remain a powerful symbol of the campaign to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
Yasuhiro Asaeda was only 11 months old when the bomb was dropped. He was among those at the small ceremony, scaled back because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are also older now and might not live for much longer. If the world can be peaceful, that would be the best,” he said.
Image: Colonel Paul Tibbets and the crew of the Enola Gay
At 8.15am local time on the 6 August 1945, an American B-19 bomber named Enola Gay, after the mother of pilot Colonel Paul Tibbets, dropped a 9,000-pound uranium-235 bomb on Hiroshima.
Detonating 2,000 feet above the city, as many as 90,000 died in the initial explosion, with another 60,000 succumbing to their injuries or radiation sickness in the months and years that followed.
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Five square miles of Hiroshima were razed to the ground.
Image: The distinctive ‘mushroom cloud’ from the explosion begins to form above Hiroshima
Three days later a second bomb was detonated over the city of Nagasaki. Another 40,000 people perished instantly.
Japan finally surrendered on 15 August 1945.
Image: Five square miles of the city were flattened
The decision of the US to use nuclear weapons was based largely on estimates of the colossal number of casualties that would result from an invasion of the Japanese mainland, between 400,000 and 800,000 dead and another million wounded.
In the decades that have followed the bombings, many of the hibakusha have campaigned to rid the world of nuclear weapons, hoping their stories of the attacks would shock countries into ending the race of ever-more powerful bombs.
Their efforts gained some reward in 2017 when the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was introduced at the UN general assembly.
However its future is uncertain. It has been ratified by only 40 of the 50 countries required to bring it into effect. And it is unlikely to ever gain support from the nuclear-armed states.
Image: Survivors of the blast suffering from radiation sickness
Today’s anniversary memorial was less about campaigning and more about honouring those who died 75 years ago.
“Many lives were stolen after the atomic bomb,” said Satoe Nakahara, who lost family members in the Hiroshima attack.
“When I think about that, while I’m alive, in order to pray for peace, people who are alive need to know and study (what happened) and teach our grandchildren.”
Source : Sky News