HIROSHIMA, Japan — Every year on Aug. 6, Hiroshima becomes a city of mourning. And one full of reminders — some delivered politely, some pointedly — of the most extreme dangers of modern warfare.
Seventy years ago, the city was incinerated by an atomic bomb, its population halved by the new and terrifying American weapon nicknamed Little Boy.
On Thursday, political leaders, aging survivors and ordinary citizens gathered at 8:15 a.m. to mourn the moment when the city unwillingly became part of the world’s introduction to the nuclear age. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima, together with another that hit Nagasaki three days later, killed more than 200,000 people, most of them civilians.
At a ceremony near the onetime industrial exhibition hall that has been preserved as a skeletal monument to the attack, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe renewed a longstanding Japanese pledge to seek worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons. The mayor of Hiroshima, Kazumi Matsui, accused “selfish” nuclear powers, including the United States, of standing in the way of that goal.
Mr. Abe and other dignitaries placed wreaths in front of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park’s eternal flame, where a placard reads: “Rest in peace. We will not make the same mistake again.” A minute of silence was punctuated by the ringing of a temple gong.
The memorial was witnessed by the United States ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, who was only the second American envoy to attend such a commemoration. Her predecessor, John V. Roos, first did so five years ago, on the 65th anniversary of the bombing, in a shift that was seen as symbolic of the Obama administration’s commitment to advancing the cause of nuclear disarmament.
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