Hiroshima commemorated the victims of the U.S. atomic bombing of the city on its 72 anniversary, gathering together at the city’s Peace Memorial Park, however just outside the park, hundreds marched in protest in an attempt to secure the country’s future against war.
Crowds protested Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s participation in the day’s ceremonies, as his destructive proposals to revise the country’s pacifist constitution could plunge Japan into war.
"My mom was a victim of the nuclear explosion and I am the second generation of that. Abe should not step into the Peace Memorial Park. This park buried those victims of the nuclear explosion. Abe came here and said the words like 'rest in peace.' They are lies and I don't want to listen to him to say those words," a demonstrator told China Central Television.
Drawing more than 50,000 people, the day’s ceremonies united survivors of the attack, their descendants, peace activists as well as representatives from about 80 countries and regions with school children running through the crowd asking attendees to sign a petition to abolish nuclear weapons in a move for world peace.
Mushroom cloud from Hiroshima bomb reaches 2500ft high, light from nuclear blast 10 times brighter than the sun. Blast wave rocks city. pic.twitter.com/jyXfNmUPFl— WW2 Tweets from 1945 (@RealTimeWWII) August 6, 2017
U.S. military forces dropped two atomic bombs — the only country to ever do so — on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945. Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces on Aug. 15, 1945, and many say the bombs were more an international show of force and a test to see how much damage they would cause since it was fairly well-known that Japan was near to surrendering
The bombings, seen as crimes against humanity, killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and left the cities and its survivors devastated for generations after.
The Peace Memorial Park, in the center of Hiroshima, is dedicated to the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack and to memorialize the victims of the horrific attack.
"Hiroshima became a place to recall peace after the war ... Hiroshima had been the base to embark on wars of aggression against China and the Korean Peninsula since the Meiji period. We cannot repeat the tragic history of Hiroshima," said a protester.
Abe attempted to amend the current constitution, which was drawn up under the Western occupation following World War II. The constitution is best known for its Article 9, by which Japan renounces its right to wage war and promises that "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained."
Meanwhile, inside the park, Hiroshima’s mayor, Kazumi Matsui, spoke to the crowds, touching on the lives lost and the ravages the atomic bomb brought, including the destruction of thousands of years of culture and art.
He urged the Japanese government to “do all in its power” to create a nuclear-weapon-free world, encouraging them to provide more support to survivors and those that suffered “mentally and physically from the effects of radiation."
"Abe said too little about Japan's responsibility of the war. As the Prime Minister of Japan, he should admit the responsibility," another protester said.
During the World War II, Japan aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific and started the invasions into China and the Korean Peninsula.