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Sunday, August 9, 1998 Published at 01:24 GMT 02:24 UK


Nagasaki remembered

Praying for continuing peace

Thousands are expected to gather on the 53rd anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki to remember its 70,000 victims.

A memorial service is to be held in the city on Japan's southernmost island of Kyushu.

The bombing and ensuing firestorm and radiation fallout on 9 August 1945 was followed by Japan's unconditional surrender six days later and the end of World War II.

[ image: More than 70,000 people died in Nagasaki]
More than 70,000 people died in Nagasaki
Three days ago a similar service was held in the western city of Hiroshima where 140,000 people lost their lives in the world's first nuclear bombing.

An estimated 50,000 lit candles and laid flowers on Thursday as part of annual observances at Hiroshima's Peace Park.

Many in the estimated crowd of 50,000 clasped their hands in prayer or held Buddhist rosaries as silence was observed at 0815 - the exact moment the US atomic bomb had exploded above the city 53 years previously.

With the Indian and Pakistani ambassadors present, Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi condemned the south Asian countries' series of atomic weapons tests.

[ image: Demonstrators in Delhi]
Demonstrators in Delhi
Obushi, who took office last month, said: "It is very regrettable that both India and Pakistan carried out nuclear tests in May."

In India the anniversary was also marked by hundreds of protesters shouting: "Bread not bombs!".

"Both India and Pakistan now have the capability to perpetrate the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on each other, not once but many times," said a resolution by activists at an anti-nuclear march in the Indian capital of New Delhi.

But in Hiroshima, Indian and Pakistani ambassadors told reporters that their countries were committed to non-proliferation.

Indian Ambassador Sidharth Singh said the memorial ceremony "brings back to you in very vivid form the horrors of atomic bombs and it renews one's commitment to make every effort toward elimination of these weapons".

Signh wrote in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum's visitor book: "India stands ready to co-operate with all countries and all peoples to create a convention leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons from the world.

"There must never be another Hiroshima."

[ image: Hiroshima; Everything within a four kilometre radius was obliterated]
Hiroshima; Everything within a four kilometre radius was obliterated
Today, many Japanese believe the atomic bombings of the two cities were unjustified, despite their country's war of aggression.

US wartime leaders defended the bombings as the only alternative to a bloody invasion of mainland Japan.

The "Little Boy" atomic bomb that obliterated Hiroshima released lethal doses of radiation when it exploded 567 meters above the city after being released by the US B-29 bomber Enola Gay.

Within 10 seconds of the detonation, the shock wave wiped out everything within four kilometres, blowing away homes, twisting iron frames and throwing bodies into the air.

Three days later a plutonium-239 device, almost twice as powerful as the first bomb, was dropped on Nagasaki.

Global remembrance

In Bangladesh, discussions, processions and meetings have marked the anniversary of the bombings.

Speakers there have been particularly critical of the nuclear trials carried out by India and Pakistan.

On the Mexican-US border, demonstrators against a low-level nuclear dump in Texas began a 72-mile walk on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.

And Iranian radio transmitted a report from the country's head of Atomic Energy Organisation, saying the WWII attacks had "changed one of the most useful sciences of humanity, that could have been used creatively for people, into an ugly and hated affair for the public".

Britain's Socialist Labour Party and Greenham Common peace camp women plan to stage a demonstration against the use of nuclear power and nuclear weapons at Aldermaston Atomic weapons establishment in Berkshire tomorrow, on the anniversary of Nagasaki.

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