About 40 people gathered in Wollongong on August 6 to commemorate the 68th Hiroshima Day.
The day marks the anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima by the United States in 1945. The bomb caused tremendous devastation and instantly killed between 70,000-80,000 people. By the year’s end the bomb had claimed 140,000 lives.
The Illawarra Union Singers opened the ceremony with a medley of songs for democracy and peace. Margaret Perrott of the Hiroshima Day Committee gave a speech in which she recalled her moving experience of visiting Hiroshima last year on Hiroshima Day.
Perrott read out last year’s Hiroshima Day Peace Declaration by Hiroshima’s Mayor Matsui Kazumi in which he observed that the average age of the hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bomb) is 78 years.
As a consequence, the city has started training official hibakusha successors who will carry on the work of remembering the cost of atomic war. Following the reading of the declaration, a minute’s silence was observed.
In Hiroshima, an estimated 50,000 people took part in this year’s ceremony held at ground zero, according to the Japan Times.
The ceremony was attended by Matsui, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and representatives from 70 countries. In his speech Abe committed to work for the abolition of nuclear weapons and support those still suffering from the effects of radiation exposure.
However, his government has committed to revising Japan’s pacifist constitution and restarting the country’s stalled nuclear reactors.
Matsui refrained from directly criticising Abe but declared Hiroshima to be “a place that embodies the grand pacifism of the Japanese constitution” and urged the government to adopt an energy policy “that places priority on safety and the livelihoods of the people”, the Japan Times said.