Despite the “nuclear war” scenario coming close to realization a few times in the past century, such an outcome has thankfully never come to pass. But nuclear armaments, in their earliest form, have been used in war before, twice even, on only one country in the entire world. To spare American lives from the prospect of a bloody ground invasion against a fanatical resistance, the United States dropped an atomic bomb in Hiroshima, and then Nagasaki, to compel the Imperial Japanese to surrender and end World War II in 1945. This Thursday, that dark episode of history turned 25 years short of a century old.
BBC tells us that this August 6 the city of Hiroshima, Japan celebrated the 75th anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on their city. And even then, the solemnity of that key historical event could not help but be overshadowed by the practical concerns brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While past anniversary commemorations of the Hiroshima bombing at the end of World War II would draw thousands of people, Japanese and foreign visitors, facemask wearing and social distancing carried the day as a markedly sparse crowd gathered.
When 8:15 Tokyo time arrived, the assembly at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park held a moment of silence for the moment when the “Little Boy” bomb dropped from the B-29 Superfortress bomber Enola Gay back in 1945 and exploded in the air over the city. As has been the routine, the mayor of Hiroshima and Prime Minister of Japan, currently Kazumi Matsui and Shinzo Abe respectively, addressed the assembly about the tragedy of 75 years ago, and hopes for an ongoing present and future where nuclear weapons will never be similarly used in anger again.
Mayor Matsui remarked on how back then, so soon after the bomb dropped and devastated Hiroshima, the scientific rumor was that the blighted wasteland would be unable to support life for around 75 years, the same milestone anniversary they celebrate now. “And yet,” he points out, “Hiroshima recovered, becoming a symbol of peace.” Prime Minister Abe then spoke of how Japan, even as it upholds its three “non-nuclear principles” (Japan’s non-possession and non-manufacture of nukes, and prohibition of their presence in Japanese territory), must continue to be a bridge between nations with different views on nuclear arsenals, and encourage them to further dialogue over violence.
Such was the reduction of the ceremony due to considerations for COVID safety that representatives of only 83 nations were present. Not even United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guteres could attend (he could only send a video message), while several key events in the ceremony were cancelled due to the non-presence of the intended participants.
Image courtesy of CBS News