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Japan Remembers the Atomic Bombing 75 Years On

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YESTERDAY (6th August) marked the 75th Anniversary since the world’s first nuclear weapon was dropped on Hiroshima.

The attack, which occurred on August 6th 1945, was quickly followed by the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki on August 9th, when the U.S. attempted to bring the Second World War to an end.

The bombing, which the United States has never apologised for, led to the deaths of at least 146,000 people as well the complete destruction of the two cities.

Standing in the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima the city’s Mayor, Kazumi Matsui, warned of the growing threat of nationalism to international peace, and urged states to commit to nuclear disarmament: “When the 1918 flu pandemic attacked a century ago, it took tens of millions of lives and terrorised the world because nations fighting World War I were unable to meet the threat together,” he said.

“A subsequent upsurge in nationalism led to World War II and the atomic bombings. We must never allow this painful past to repeat itself. Civil society must reject self-centred nationalism and unite against all threats.”

His words took on a special resonance as this year’s commemoration of the bombing, which is usually attended by thousands, had to be restricted due to the Coronavirus.

“On August 6, 1945, a single atomic bomb destroyed our city. Rumour at the time had it that ‘nothing will grow here for 75 years,'”

Mayor Kazumi Matsui said in a speech afterwards. “And yet, Hiroshima recovered, becoming a symbol of peace.”

He also called on the government of Japan to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, reiterated his support for a ban on nuclear weapons, but cautioned that it wouldn’t happen overnight.

His government has previously been criticised for not listening to the survivors of Hiroshima, who are now in their eighties and fighting to tell their stories.

Hiroshima Today

In the centre of Hiroshima, exactly where the bomb exploded lies the Hiroshima Peace Park.

Hiroshima Peace Park Credit: Iona Brownlie

The Peace Park represents the hope for world wide peace and the commitment of the survivors in opposing nuclear weapons.

A prominent feature of the Peace Park is the A-Bomb dome.

The dome survived the impact of the bomb and now sits beside the Motoyasu River overlooking the peaceful park.

A-Bomb Dome, Hiroshima Credit: Iona Brownlie

On the evening of the anniversary (6th August) the Motoyasu River is a lit with floating lanterns dedicating to sending off the souls of those who died.

The lanterns also contain messages of hope and peace attached alongside.

The dome has been left in near enough the exact same condition from when it was affected by the bomb, in memory of those who were killed and the many survivors.

The A-bomb Dome after the bomb was detonated Credit: Washington Post

The A-bomb dome is a permanent reminder of the consequences of nuclear weapons.

It still stands in the heart of the city reminding citizens and visitors alike of the devastating effect the bomb still has today.

A particularly poignant part of the park is the Children’s Memorial.

A child stands on top holding an origami crane which is meant to represent moving towards a peaceful future.

The Children’s Memorial, Hiroshima Credit: Iona Brownlie

It is a tradition when visiting the park to bring 1000 origami cranes to hang up around the memorial.

An old Japanese legend claims if a person folds 1000 origami cranes they will live a long life.

Sadako Sasaki was two years old when the bomb fell on Hiroshima.

Ten years later she was diagnosed with Leukaemia.

Whilst in hospital, Sadako committed herself to folding 1000 origami cranes.

Unfortunately, Sadako died before she was able to finish all 1000.

A finished collection of 1000 cranes was delivered to her hospital room after her death,, having been completed by her classmates.

The memorial was created to honour all of the spirits of the children that died from the bomb.

A collection of origami cranes at the Children’s Memorial Credit: Nathan Gallogley

Visitors from all over the world leave 1000 cranes at the memorial site to remember Sadako Sasaki.

The original goal of folding the cranes was to ensure a long life however today it has come represent peace, a wish for life, mental health happiness, to name a few.

Approximately ten tonnes of cranes are delivered to the peace park every year and are temporarily displayed beside the memorial.

Once they’re taken down, the Hiroshima City Welfare Services Office recycles them into paper goods.

Hiroshima has managed to turn the site of something so horrible into something so peaceful.

A model of the vast destruction. The red ball depicts the place where the bomb was detonated. Cred: Iona Brownlie

The park is a poignant reminder of the harsh consequences of nuclear weapons.

It’s hard to understand the mass destruction and annihilation that took place while you’re standing in the park.

Survivors have taken decades to tell their stories but the trauma of the bomb is still raw we may never understand the true effect that the bomb had.

The Japanese have become a voice for world peace and nuclear disarmament as the scars of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings are forever visible.

John Hersey’s book ‘Hiroshima’ tells the stories of six survivors of the atomic bomb and is an incredible in-depth look at the those whose lives were changed forever on 6th August 1945.

Feature Image Credit: The New York Times

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