Hiroshima, Nagasaki anniversaries marked around the world

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In Japan and around the world, tens of thousands are marking one of the worst atrocities in modern history: the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They are vowing to never let it happen again.

Hiroshima was bombed Aug. 6, 1945, and Nagasaki was demolished two days later. Descriptions from hibakusha, those who survived the blasts and ensuing fallout, have given testimony to the horror of those days. These were the only time atomic weapons have been used against human populations

"When it struck, I was burned on my back with the heat ray of the fireball, as high as 3,000 to 4,000 degrees Celsius at its center, melting rocks and iron, and also with the invisible radiation," Taniguchi Sumiteru said at a UN meeting in 2005, describing his experience. "The next moment I was blown off together with the bike about 4 meters and smashed to the ground by the blast. The blast had a velocity of 250 to 300 meters per second. It knocked down buildings and warped steel frames."

In Hiroshima, a memorial service was held yesterday to mark the 67th anniversary of the bombing. There, representatives of the United Nations, as well as hibakusha, peace groups and others remembered the past and vowed to continue fighting until all nuclear weapons were destroyed.

A group of students from Fukushima, the site of the widely reported nuclear power plant disaster caused by an earthquake and tidal wave, attended the ceremonies, according to The Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane delivered a message from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Aug. 6 in Hiroshima.

"On this day, in this city, let me proclaim again: there must never be another nuclear attack - never," she said. "The elimination of such weapons is not just a visionary goal, but the most reliable way to prevent their future use."

Ban, in his message, said that defense experts had concluded that nuclear weapons do not actually ensure a balance of power. Instead, he said, their very existence is destabilizing to the region and to the world.

Around the world, the fight against nuclear weapons is continuing.

On Aug. 1, 16 new cities joined Mayors for Peace, including Bogotá and Gainesville, Fla. The organization was formed in 1982 at the behest of Takeshi Araki, then mayor of Hiroshima. His proposal, according to the organization, "offered cities a way to transcend national borders and work together to press for nuclear abolition. Subsequently, the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki called on mayors around the world to support this program."

Earlier this year, the organization celebrated as the number of cities signed up surpassed 5,000.

Still speaking on behalf of Secretary General Ban, Kane announced that the UN was undertaking several initiatives to preserve the memories of the horrors of the atomic blasts and to strengthen the fight against nuclear weapons.

"Your message is being heard," Ban's message continued. "I am very pleased that the testimonies of many hibakusha are being translated into several languages. In support of these efforts, the United Nations has just launched a multimedia website of hibakusha telling their stories. It is very important that these words be heard and understood in all countries, especially by the younger generation."

The UN disarmament official added, "The United Nations ... has also sponsored international 'Art for Peace' and 'Poetry for Peace' contests, challenging young people everywhere to imagine a world free of nuclear weapons. In many ways, our collective future rests on their understanding and support for this goal."

Kane, while in Hiroshima, met with the leaders of Japan's political parties, Kazuo Shii, chair of the Japanese Communist Party.

Photo: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. karma police // CC 2.0

 

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  • Mr. Margolis is as accurate as can be. There were no boundaries in combat in WWII. It was either kill or be killed. Had the United States not dropped 2 Atomic bombs the Japanese would have fought till the end until victory was acheived......Then Mr. Margolis would have written this article in Japanese.

    Posted by kenneth clay, 08/21/2012 10:35pm (2 years ago)

  • I'm just as interested as Edwin here. What were the military targets in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

    Posted by carlos , 08/20/2012 11:56pm (2 years ago)

  • Mr. Margolis is right, Such concepts didn't exist at that time when the 2 Atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. However, the concept does exist now at present day, and looking back, Yes Edwin is absolutely correct, it was an act of Terrorism any way you look at it. Your article doesn't explain what military targets the US was aiming for when they dropped the 2 bombs. And if it was so wrong why did the US drop 2 Atomic bombs? Why not one? Americans even had a worldwide celebration after dropping the bombs regardless of the civilians killed. How barbaric is that. great article.

    Posted by barbara, 08/17/2012 9:40pm (2 years ago)

  • Good point you have Mr.margolis. The attack on Pearl Harbor was just a "surprise attack" mainly on a military target. However if the concept was there ? Would it have been stilled called "terrorism" since it was a military target (naval base) ? So what military targets were the US aiming for when they dropped the 2 Atomic Bombs?

    Posted by edwin, 08/15/2012 12:39pm (2 years ago)

  • This isn't so much a double standard as a matter of timing. The purposeful targeting of civilians is an act of terrorism, no matter who does it. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren't called crimes against humanity when they happened because such concepts didn't exist at that time.

    The body of international law has moved forward in a huge way since then, and such an act would now be universally condemned, no matter who did it. Since 1945, we've seen the creation of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions and countless declarations and treaties on human rights, what constitutes a war crime, the rights of children, the rights of women, and so on.

    It makes less sense to talk about double standards than to look at the recent past, see how barbaric things were then, look at our progress as a world civilization, and then think about what else needs to be done. For example, we need to do our part to further progress by ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and by more fully complying with the Geneva Conventions, especially in regards to torture. Also, we should fully join in the International Criminal Court.

    Posted by Dan M., 08/12/2012 2:42pm (2 years ago)

  • edwin,

    It is an interesting contrast you show. It's practically out of Orwell's book, "1984."

    Posted by revolution123, 08/12/2012 2:07pm (2 years ago)

  • A bomb that kills civilians in Japan is called war. A bomb that kills civilians in the United States is called Terrorism. How interesting. Great Article.

    Posted by edwin, 08/08/2012 12:25am (2 years ago)

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