Japan celebrates 75 years with the atomic bomb

Seventy-five years after the atomic bombings in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan remembers. Prayers and tributes have been held in the special context of the Covid-19 pandemic that has forced the country to restrict them this year. However, the anniversaries were an opportunity for the Japanese leaders to express their connection to world declaration and peace.

On August 6, 1945, a US B-29 bomber dropped the first atomic bomb in history on Hiroshima, in western Japan. Three days later, the same nightmare repeated itself in Nagasaki.

Seventy-five years later, bells rang on Thursday in Hiroshima to mark the sad anniversary. Nuclear bomb survivors, descendants of the victims, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and some foreign officials attended the main memorial service early in the morning in Hiroshima, most wearing masks, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Limited ceremonies

The public, on the other hand, had not been invited to the event due to sanitation and had to content themselves with attending the ceremony online. Other events were completely interrupted, including the Hiroshima Floating Lantern Ceremony, which was held at nightfall on August 6, in memory of the victims.

A silent prayer was held at 8:15 local time, marking the exact moment when the atomic bomb exploded in the sky over Hiroshima seventy-five years ago. “On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb destroyed our city. The rumor was then that nothing would grow here for seventy-five years,” said the city’s mayor Kazumi Matsui. “And yet Hiroshima fell apart. Rose and became a symbol of peace,” he added, urging civil society to reject nationalism’s “withdrawal to itself.”

“I promise to do my best for the creation of a world without nuclear weapons and lasting peace,” promised Shinzo Abe, often criticized for his intention to revise the Japanese pacifist constitution.

The “Little Boy” bomb killed about 140,000 people in Hiroshima. Many casualties were killed immediately, and many more also died from injuries or radiation in the weeks and months that followed. Three days later, a second US A-bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, causing 74,000 more deaths.

These two bombs of destructive power that had never happened before brought Japan to its knees: on August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced to his subjects the surrender to the Allies, thus signing the end of World War II. .

Historians, however, continue to discuss whether this dual nuclear attack really saved more lives by speeding up the end of the conflict. Many believe that the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are war crimes. the unparalleled extent of their devastation and the large number of civilians injured.

“A world without nuclear weapons seems more and more distant”

The United States has never officially apologized. But in 2016, Barack Obama became the first incumbent US president to visit Hiroshima, where he paid tribute to the victims and called for a world without nuclear weapons.

In 2019, Pope Francis also traveled to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to hammer home his total denial of nuclear weapons, which he called a “crime”, and to corrupt the doctrine of nuclear deterrence, a “false security” poisoning contrary to human relations, according to him .

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres regretted in a video broadcast on Thursday that the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons, formulated by the UN from its inception, remains unfinished. “Today, a world without nuclear weapons seems increasingly remote,” he said.

Some nuclear bomb survivors have drawn parallels between their fight against nuclear weapons and the current crown virus crisis. “Whether it’s coronavirus or nuclear weapons, the way to overcome [ces défis] is solidarity between people, ”Keiko Ogura, an 83-year-old survivor of Hiroshima, told reporters recently.

About 136,700 survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, called “hibakusha” in Japan, are still alive today. But with just over 83 years of average age, their strength diminishes and they try to pass on the baton by testifying to new generations.

With the help of other nuclear activists, hibakusha have created an archive for their memory, whether in the form of recorded testimonies, poems or drawings. Despite these initiatives, many fear the loss of their memory. interest in their heritage when they are no longer there, although the nuclear threat is still relevant.

With AFP and Reuters