Hiroshima (AsiaNews) - Tens of thousands of people gathered this morning in Hiroshima Peace Park to celebrate the 68th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of the city. At 8:15 am, the time when the Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb in the history of humanity, people observed a minute of silence. Immediately after some doves, symbols of peace, were released. Among those present were the city's Bishop, Msgr. Thomas Manyo Maeda, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
As every year, the town hall then
sounded the "Bell of Peace" and the mayor added the names of the survivors
who have died since last August 6 to the monument that commemorates the victims.
people - who bear the scars from radiation and nuclear related diseases - are
known in Japan as hibakusha and are highly
respected: currently 201,779 survivors are still living, whose names are
honored, however, like those of the dead immediately after the bombing. The
Prime Minister laid a wreath at the monument.
The mayor Kazumi Matsui then delivered a speech in which he emphasized the importance of peace: "We offer heartfelt consolation to the souls of the atomic bomb victims by pledging to do everything in our power to eliminate the absolute evil of nuclear weapons and achieve a peaceful world".
An estimated 140 thousand people died during the nuclear attack on Hiroshima, followed by the bombing of Nagasaki on August 9. According to the Allies these two devastations hastened the end of World War II, given that Japan remained the only Axis country to fight. On 15 August 1945, Tokyo signed its unconditional surrender.
The Japanese Church celebrates these anniversaries 3 with an event called "Ten Days for Peace." The president of the Bishops' Conference, Archbishop of Tokyo Msgr. Peter Takeo, at the end of June, sent the annual message of the Bishops on the theme "The basis of peace is the protection of human dignity."
Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, is also in Japan for the event. Yesterday he presided over a "mass for peace" in the cathedral of Hiroshima. In his homily, he recalled the importance of "ending hostilities between humans and converting the instruments of death into instruments of peace and progress for humanity."
Today, the cardinal will participate in an interfaith meeting and deliver an address on mutual cooperation in the construction of world peace, while tomorrow he will be in Nagasaki to take part in a dinner sponsored by the Center for Interreligious Dialogue on World Peace; Thursday as part of a interfaith memorial service held at the "Ground-Zero Park" of the city, Cardinal Turkson will recite a prayer for all the victims. Finally on Friday 9, also in Nagasaki, the president of the Vatican Council will preside over a Mass for peace in the world.