In the face of global concerns about a new nuclear arms race, the Japanese city of Hiroshima commemorated the victims of the atomic bombing 77 years ago.
"Crises with serious nuclear overtones are spreading rapidly - from the Middle East to the Korean Peninsula to the Russian invasion of Ukraine," UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at a commemoration ceremony at Hiroshima Peace Park on Saturday. "Humanity is playing with a loaded gun". It was the first time in 12 years that a UN chief attended Hiroshima's annual commemoration. Russia and its ally Belarus were not invited.
At 8:15 a.m. (local time), the time when the US bomber Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb called "Little Boy" on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the people of Hiroshima observed a minute's silence. Tens of thousands of Hiroshima residents died instantly, and an estimated 140,000 died by the end of 1945. Three days after Hiroshima, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Shortly thereafter, the Japanese Empire capitulated. Hiroshima is now a global symbol of war - and peace.
"We must immediately render all nuclear buttons meaningless," said Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui. In his speech to representatives of 98 nations and the European Union, he expressly mentioned Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, to which innocent civilians fell victim. "Around the world, the notion that peace depends on nuclear deterrence is gaining traction," Matsui said. Russia had recently confirmed that it did not want to start a nuclear war. "We assume that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and that it must never be started," President Vladimir Putin wrote in a welcoming address to the August 26 conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty in New York.
Nuclear disarmament had already faltered before Russia launched a war of aggression against Ukraine. Now reducing the nearly 13,000 nuclear weapons worldwide is becoming even more difficult. "We must always bear in mind the horrors of Hiroshima and recognize that the only solution to the nuclear threat is to have no nuclear weapons at all," said Guterres, who received applause for his Hiroshima speech. Japan is hosting the summit of the seven leading democratic economic powers (G7) in the city next year.