Fifty-eight years to the moment after a U.S. atom bomb was dropped
on Hiroshima, the Peace Bell tolled and doves were released near the
epicenter in the city's Peace Park amid the shrill of cicadas in the
At the annual ceremony Hiroshima's mayor, Tadatoshi Akiba, said the
atomic bombing victims these days fear that once again there could
be nuclear mushroom clouds spilling black rain.
Mayor Akiba says current U.S. nuclear policy - which does not rule
out a preemptive first strike in a potential conflict - is endangering
the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. He says Washington "appears
to worship nuclear weapons as God."
The Hiroshima mayor, using unusually tough words in his annual Peace
Declaration, also called on President Bush, North Korean leader Kim
Jong Il and leaders of all nuclear nations to visit his city and learn
the reality of nuclear war.
Survivors, whose average age is now above 70, say they are worried
that fading memories of the atomic attack will mean Japan will increasingly
move away from its post World War Two pacifism. Some even worry that
Japan, one day, might even arm itself with nuclear weapons.
But Prime Minister Koizumi, speaking at the ceremony, said that Japan
would not head in that direction. He pledged that Japan would take
the lead in trying to eliminate nuclear weapons in the world. Mr. Koizumi
says Japan will push for disarmament urging more countries to ratify
the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The 58th anniversary comes amid increasing tension in the world over
nuclear proliferation. North Korea has announced it wants to develop
nuclear arms, there are concerns about whether Iran may be on that
course and the United States is moving to resume research into so-called "mini-nukes."
At this year's Hiroshima ceremony, the names of more than five-thousand
people recognized as atomic bomb victims who died since last year were
added to the memorial cenotaph. That brings the total number of victims
to nearly 232,000.
Approximately 140,000 people died when the United States dropped
a uranium bomb on Hiroshima in the closing days of the Second World
War. It marked the first use of nuclear weapons in warfare. Three days
later, a plutonium warhead was dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki.
Japan surrendered less than a week later, bringing an end to World