About 50,000 people gathered Tuesday in Hiroshima’s peace park near the epicenter of the 1945 blast that killed up to 140,000 people. The bombing of Nagasaki three days later killed tens of thousands more, prompting Japan’s surrender to the World War II Allies.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that as the sole country to face nuclear attack, Japan has the duty to seek to wipe out nuclear weapons.
The anniversary comes as Japan is torn over restarting nuclear power plants shut down since a 2011 accident in Fukushima. More than 100,000 people remain displaced. Abe favors restarting plants under new safety guidelines, while many Japanese oppose such restarts.
In a “peace declaration” speech, Hiroshima’s mayor, Kazumi Matsui, chided the government for its efforts to restart the nuclear plants and to export nuclear technology to other countries.
“This summer, eastern Japan is still suffering the aftermath of the great earthquake and the nuclear accident. The desperate struggle to recover hometowns continues. The people of Hiroshima know well the ordeal of recovery,” Matsui said.
“We urge the national government to rapidly develop and implement a responsible energy policy that places top priority on safety and the livelihoods of the people,” he said.
A recent agreement on discussing nuclear energy cooperation with India, he said, would probably hinder efforts to abolish nuclear weapons.