Hiroshima mayor backs Obama's call for an end to nuclear weapons
The mayor of Hiroshima today backed Barack Obama's call for the abolition of nuclear weapons when he spoke at a ceremony to mark the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the Japanese city.
Tadatoshi Akiba said he was speaking for the global "Obamajority" in calling for the elimination of all nuclear weapons by 2020.
"We have the power. We have the responsibility. And we are the Obamajority," he said, also invoking the US president's "Yes, we can" campaign soundbite.
In a speech in Prague earlier this year, Obama said the US, as the only country to have used nuclear weapons, had a "moral responsibility" to bring about their abolition.
About 50,000 people, including survivors and foreign dignitaries, gathered in Hiroshima's peace memorial park to remember the moment, at 8.15am on 6 August 1945, when a B-29 bomber dropped "Little Boy" on the city, reducing it to rubble.
The blast killed 80,000 people instantly, with the death toll rising to an estimated 140,000 by the end of the year.
The Japanese prime minister, Taro Aso, repeated his commitment to Japan's non-nuclear principles – to never build, or possess, nuclear weapons, or allow them on the country's soil.
The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said complete nuclear disarmament should no longer be dismissed as a pacifist fantasy.
"I call on humanity to support this sensible and achievable goal," he said. "Let us each do our part in this common journey, and thereby ensure that there will be no more victims such as those we honour today."
According to the government, there were more than 235,000 A-bomb survivors in Japan in March this year – about 8,000 fewer than last year – with an average age of 75.
On 9 August 1945, the US dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, killing about 80,000 people. Japan surrendered less than a week later.
More than six decades on, the bombings continue to divide opinion among Japanese and US citizens.
In a poll published earlier this week, nearly two-thirds of Americans said the US had been right to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Only 22% of respondents to a poll by Quinnipiac University believed the then US president, Harry Truman, had been wrong to order the cities' destruction.
Japan pledges help for atom bomb survivors
TOKYO: Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso has opened the way for over 300 survivors of the atomic bombings to receive compensation.
He said the government will accept their status as A-bomb victims, ending their court battles to win recognition.
His announcement came as Japan marked the 64th anniversary of the world's first atomic attack. The day was also observed with prayers for a nuclear-free world.
A moment of silence was observed at 8:15am - the exact moment the first atomic bomb was used on human beings.
On August 6, 1945, US warplane Enola Gay dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. At that time, the city had a population of 350,000. One third of them perished - some died instantly, while others in the days and weeks that followed as radiation or horrific burns took their toll.
At last count, there were 263,945 people named as A-bomb victims in the epitaph at the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park, near the epicentre of "ground zero".
Mr Aso said: "Japan is the only country in the world that was victimised by the atomic bomb. The sufferings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki shall not be repeated and we devote ourselves to the abolition of nuclear weapons and realisation of world peace."
The prime minister also promised more help to people suffering from radiation-related diseases.
He said he will end a six-year suit against the government, by recognizing the 306 plaintiffs as A-bomb victims, which means they will be entitled to receive compensation.
Another sign of hope for victims and their families is the call for a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons by 2020.
US President Barack Obama's speech in Prague earlier this year calling for a non-nuclear world registered in the mind of many Japanese. Many hope he will become the first US President to visit one of the nuclear bombed cities of Hiroshima or Nagasaki when he visits Japan in November this year.
Hiroshima Mayor, Tadatoshi Akiba, said: "Nuclear weapons are meaningless and their elimination has become an unwavering position. We join President Obama in activities to eliminate all nuclear weapons."
On August 9, the city of Nagasaki will remember the day it was devastated by the world's second nuclear bomb.
Sixty-four years after Hiroshima, opinion of the bombings is mixed
Around the world today, people are commemorating the 64th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Japan.
The legacy of that act, which is credited with bringing about a swift end to World War II, is still unsettled: The nuclear explosions in Hiroshima and, three days later, in Nagasaki left a many as 220,000 Japanese dead, but by ending the war (Japan surrendered soon after), they may have spared more casualties.
Quinnipiac University recently asked more than 2,400 registered voters, "Do you think the United States did the right thing or the wrong thing by dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?"
Sixty-one percent of those polled said they believed the bomb was the right thing. Twenty-two percent called it wrong. Sixteen percent were undecided.
But here's where it gets interesting.
The poll's findings suggest that Americans' opinion of the bombing depends on their age, gender, ethnicity and political groundings.
Seventy-three percent of voters older than 55 approved of the decision, and only 50% of voters ages 18 to 34 approved. Seventy-four percent of Republicans said the bombings were a good idea, and 49% of Democrats said so. Seventy-two percent of men approved and 51% of women agreed.
The poll found that only 34% of black voters and 44% of Latino voters supported the bombs, although pollsters cautioned that those numbers may not be representative because the polling sample was smaller for those groups.
I was really surprised that no major news source seems to have mentioned this - not even on the ticker. BBC has a picture of a woman praying in their 'In Pictures' section. Not even the History Channel acknowledged it today. :(
Most of the articles I've found about it are from independent blogs or newspapers in Asia.
Has the world forgotten already?