Appealing for a “world without nuclear weapons,” the mayor of Nagasaki on Sunday led Japan in solemnly marking the 64th anniversary of the devastating US atomic bombing on the city that killed nearly 74,000 people.
Echoing a call made earlier by US President Barack Obama, Mayor Tomihisa Taue said some progress has been made on eliminating nuclear weapons but more efforts were required to reach the goal.
“We, as human beings, now have two paths before us,” Taue said in a speech delivered after 11:02 am, the time when a plutonium bomb dropped by a US warplane flattened the southwestern Japanese city on Aug 9, 1945.
“While one can lead us to 'a world without nuclear weapons,' the other will carry us toward annihilation,” Kyodo news agency quoted Taue as saying in his speech at the memorial ceremony at Nagasaki Peace Park.
In April, Obama said in Prague that the US will seek a world without nuclear weapons, creating a wave of optimism among those who are petitioning for the abolishment of nuclear arms across the world.
He urged the international community to make North Korea destroy its nuclear arsenal and said the five major nuclear powers -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — must "fulfill their responsibility to reduce nuclear arms."
"President Obama's speech was a watershed event, in that the United States, a superpower possessing nuclear weapons, finally took a step towards the elimination of nuclear armaments," Taue said, adding that people in Nagasaki are
circulating petitions urging the US leader to visit the city , which was devastated by the 1945 bombing.
Japan, he said must take a leading role in disseminating around the world the "ideals of peace and renunciation of war" as stipulated in its Constitution, as the only nation to have suffered nuclear bombings.
A moment of silence was observed at 11:02 am, the time when a US bomber dropped an atomic bomb on the city.