Japan marks atomic bomb anniversary, calls nuclear deterrence ‘folly’

Published August 7, 2023
People release paper lanterns on the Motoyasu River beside the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, commonly known as the atomic bomb dome, to mark the 78th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bomb attack on Sunday. — AFP
People release paper lanterns on the Motoyasu River beside the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, commonly known as the atomic bomb dome, to mark the 78th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bomb attack on Sunday. — AFP

TOKYO: Japan on Sunday marked the 78th anniversary of the US atomic bombing on Hiroshima, where its mayor urged the abolition of nuclear weapons and called the Group of Seven leaders’ notion of nuclear deterrence a “folly”.

The day to commemorate the victims of the world’s first nuclear attack comes as Russia has raised the spectre of using nuclear weapons in its war with Ukraine.

It also comes as biopic “Oppenheimer”, chronicling the creation of the atomic bomb, has become a box-office hit in the United States. Some have criticised the film for largely ignoring the weapons’ destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — bombed three days later, on Aug 9, 1945. The film’s release in Japan has yet to be announced.

Also causing controversy in Japan, the distributor of “Barbie”, a blockbuster relea­sed on the same day as “Oppenhei­mer”, latched on to fan-produced “Barben­heimer” memes that depicted the actors in the title roles alongside images of nuclear blasts.

Hiroshima was in the spotlight in May, where Prime Minister Fumio Kishida hosted a G7 summit in the western city, his home constituency. G7 leaders issued a statement expressing their commitment to achieving disarmament but said that as long as nuclear weapons existed, they should serve to deter aggression and prevent war.

A peace bell tolled at 8:15am, the time the bomb was dropped. About 50,000 participants in the outdoor memorial ceremony including ageing survivors observed a moment of silence, with the summer heat hitting 30 degrees Celsius.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2023

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