Hiroshima Atomic Bomb: Olympics Refuses ‘One minute silence’, Japan Commemorates Amid Disappointments

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Friday commemorated 76 years since the world’s first atomic bomb attack in Japan ,

Japan marked the ceremonies amid disappointment over a declination by Olympics organisers to hold a minute’s silence.

Survivors, relatives and a some foreign dignitaries attended this year’s main event in Hiroshima to pray for those killed or wounded in the bombing and call for world peace.

The general public were once again kept away to heed covid protocols, with the ceremony instead a broadcast online.

Partakers, several dressed in black and wearing face masks, gave a silent prayer at 8:15 am (2315 GMT Thursday), the time the first nuclear weapon used in wartime was dropped over the city.

An estimated 140,000 people were killed in the bombing of Hiroshima, which was pursued three days later by the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

On Friday, Hiroshima’s mayor cautioned “experience has taught humanity that threatening others for self-defence benefits no one”.

Also, he also called for leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to “achieve a deeper understanding of the bombings”.

International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach made a trip to Hiroshima before the Games started, to signify the start of an Olympic truce that encourages a break to fighting worldwide to allow the safe passage of athletes.

However, organisers resisted approving of a proposal from bomb survivors and the city for athletes to join a minute of silent prayer on Friday morning.

In a letter, Bach said the Olympic closing ceremony would include time to honour victims of tragedy throughout history.

“His letter didn’t say anything about our request,” Tomohiro Higaki from Hiroshima’s peace promotion division told AFP.

“It is disappointing, even though we appreciate that Bach visited Hiroshima to learn the reality of bomb victims,” he said.

Bach’s visit itself was debatable, with more than 70,000 people endorsing a petition defying the trip and condemning him of seeking “to promote the Olympics… even though it is being forced through despite opposition”.

Yoko Sado, 43, who was strolling around the peace memorial park with her seven-year-old son, said the pandemic had robbed Hiroshima of an opportunity to circulate a message of peace.

“If it were not for the pandemic, many people who would have attended the Tokyo Olympics could have had visited this park and see the exhibitions,” she told AFP.

“I’m a bit disappointed… It would have been a great opportunity.” she lamented.

This year’s ceremony is the first since an international treaty outlawing nuclear weapons entered into force last year when a 50th country ratified the text.

The treaty has not been signed by nuclear-armed states, but activists speculate it will have a gradual obstruction consequence.

 

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