Hiroshima (AsiaNews / Agencies) - For the first time a representative of the U.S. government today took part in the ceremonies commemorating the destruction of the city of Hiroshima, 65 years ago, by an atomic bomb launched by the U.S.. The bomb, which struck at 8.15 am (local time) on August 6, 1945, claimed more than 140,000 lives and soon marked the end of World War II.
For the first time, Britain and France - U.S. allies in the war - attended the ceremony at the Peace Memorial, along with representatives of more than 70 countries
Japan is the only country in the world to have been the victim of a nuclear attack - in Hiroshima on August 6 and in Nagasaki August 9. For this, the country has long called for nuclear disarmament worldwide.
"The human race - Prime Minister Naoto Kan said during his speech - should not repeat the horror and suffering caused by nuclear weapons ... Japan, as the only victim of the atomic bombings in wartime, has a moral responsibility in the struggle to build a world without nuclear weapons".
John Roos, U.S. ambassador to Japan, representing his government, issued a statement stressing the importance of "working together to realize a world without nuclear weapons." His presence in Hiroshima is seen as preparing the way for President Barack Obama to the martyred city and a revival of its program of global denuclearization.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, also present for the first time the annual ceremony in Hiroshima, said that "The only way to ensure that such weapons will never again be used is to eliminate them all. There must be no place in our world for such indiscriminate weapons".
At 8:15, the precise moment the bomb exploded over the city, all present observed a minute's silence, followed by the speech of the mayor of Hiroshima, Tadatoshi Akiba, and the release of 1000 doves into the sky as a sign of peace. "We - Akiba said - salute this August 6 with reinforced determination that in the future no one else will have to endure such horrors."
In Hiroshima, at least 140,000 people died instantly or as a result of injuries caused by the bomb that incinerated every living thing within hundreds of meters and more than 70 000 for the plutonium bomb that exploded in Nagasaki. Several groups in Japan have demanded that the U.S. ask forgiveness for the two atomic bombs, but the U.S. has always claimed that the two bombs were necessary to end the war.