Nagasaki stops to commemorate atomic bomb: 'Never again such a tragedy'

74,000 people died in less than a year. A surviving nun: "We can not forget". Mayor of Nagasaki: "Japan has a moral obligation to lead efforts for a world without nuclear power". The race to keep the memory of the survivors alive.

 


Nagasaki (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A tragedy that must never be repeated: on 9 August 1945 at 11:02 the "Fat Man" bomb exploded on Nagasaki, causing the death of 74 thousand by the end of the year people. Today, the mayor and the city gathered at the Peace Park, for one minute of silence to commemorate the victims and ask for a world free from nuclear weapons.

"I do not want to recall memories, but it can not be forgotten," commented Mainichi Shinbun, Sr. Misako Michiwaki (see photo 2), a 90-year-old "hibakusha" (atomic bomb survivor). At the time she was 17 and worked in the factory. She managed to save herself by running - rosary in hand - up a hill. From there, she watched the city engulfed by fire. 

In the following years Michiwaki took vows, and 20 years later she began to write her testimony of the tragedy every year. Every anniversary, the religious recalls every detail: the colleague who had shouted at her to leave him behind because "he would never make it", hunger during the flight and desperate voices. The conclusion is always the same: "So tragic an event it must never happen again".

Today, the mayor of Nagasaki launched the same appeal, echoing the words of his colleague and the bishop of Hiroshima: Japan has "the moral obligation" to lead efforts towards a nuclear-free world and promote the Treaty for abolition of nuclear weapons. 

Representatives from 71 countries and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres were present at this year's ceremony. It is the first time that the head of an international organ takes part in the commemoration. On this occasion, Guterres has returned to insist that the countries adhere to the treaty: "Let us commit ourselves so that Nagasaki is the last place on Earth to suffer nuclear devastation".

Meanwhile, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep the memory of the survivors alive  in Japan. There are an estimated 155 thousand hibakusha still alive, most with an average age of 82. In schools, "education for peace" program has lost momentum. For this reason, many activists - including the Nobel Laureates Kazuo Ishiguro and Ican - carry out campaigns to preserve the memory of the survivors.

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