Japan on Monday commemorated the anniversary of the 1945 U.S. atomic bomb attack on the city of Hiroshima, with tens of thousands of people attending an annual ceremony.
About 50,000 people, including bomb survivors, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and representatives from more than 80 countries, observed a minute's silence at 8:15 am, the moment 73 years ago when a U.S. B-29 bomber dropped the bomb.
The attack on Hiroshima, 700 kilometres west of Tokyo, in the closing days of World War II ushered in the nuclear age. It was the first use of nuclear weapons against human beings.
Tens of thousands of people were killed instantly, and by the end of 1945, about 140,000 had died because of the effects of the attack.
This year's anniversary comes eight months after the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
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The group played a key role in campaigning for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was approved by the United Nations in July last year.
And less than two months ago, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" during their summit in Singapore, though the deal has been criticized for lacking detail.
At Monday's ceremony, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui warned that "certain countries are blatantly proclaiming self-centred nationalism and modernizing their nuclear arsenals, rekindling tensions that had eased with the end of the Cold War."
If the human family forgets history or stops confronting it, we could again commit a terrible error," Matsui said.
The mayor called on the Japanese government to lead the international community towards "dialogue and cooperation for a world without nuclear weapons."
A survey conducted by the Kyodo News agency showed 81 per cent of the survivors want Japan to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
The US military dropped a second atomic bomb three days later on the city of Nagasaki, killing about 74,000, and Japan surrendered to Allied Forces on August 15, bringing an end to the war.