At 6.15 Christians, Shintoists and Buddhists held a joint prayer. In his Peace Declaration Hiroshima mayor warns the “human family” not to forget. For him, nuclear deterrence is “inherently unstable and extremely dangerous”. A memorial Mass is held for the victims. Meetings are held so as not to forget.
Hiroshima (AsiaNews) – Seventy-three years after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Japanese people have not forgotten the tragedy and reiterate their desire for a world free from nuclear weapons.
"At 6.15 am, there was a moment of prayer at the Peace Park," said Fr Alberto Berra, PIME missionary in Hiroshima.
Christians – Catholics and Protestants – as well as Buddhists and Shintoists attended the service to remember the victims of 6 August 1945.
Soon after, an official ceremony was held in the presence of the authorities, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, and representatives of 85 countries.
At 8.15 am, the same time when “Little Boy" exploded on the city in 1945, those present held a minute of silence.
As per tradition, the mayor delivered the usual Peace Declaration. This year, Mayor Matsui strongly appealed for a world without nuclear weapons.
"If the human family forgets history or stops confronting it, we could again commit a terrible error," he said.
For Japan, this means leading the international community towards "dialogue and cooperation for a world without nuclear weapons," the mayor added.
Matsui slammed the policy of nuclear deterrence, noting that it is “inherently unstable and extremely dangerous” to maintain international order through fear.
Currently, more than 14,000 nuclear weapons are estimated to still exist in the world.
At the end of the official ceremony, local Catholics went to the city’s cathedral for a memorial mass dedicated to the victims, in the presence of the nuncio.
As a community, Hiroshima Catholics marked the event with two days of initiatives, attended by Christians from all the dioceses, and many young people.
"Various programmes started on 5 August, culminating in the evening mass,” said Fr Berra. “This year’s theme was 'What I can do for peace', with an explicit reference to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the group that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.
"There are various meetings and survivors telling their stories about the atomic bomb tragedy, both Japanese and Koreans who were present. It is important to pass on all this to the new generations."
Tonight, a concert will bring the two days of commemoration to a close.
The explosion of “Little boy” and its effects killed 140,000 people in 1945. "Hibakusha" (bomb survivors) continue their campaign against nuclear weapons.
Almost 155,000 are still alive with an average age of 82, which makes it increasingly urgent to pass on the memory of the tragedy to the young.
Many hibakusha were at the memorial service despite their advanced age and the heatwave that has hit the country over the past several weeks.