Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Memorial Service, U.S. Honors Victims

For the first time, the United States has sent a representative to the annual memorial service for the victims of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. Sixty-six years ago today, the United States dropped a nuclear bomb over the city, and within 43 seconds, the bomb exploded, instantly killing more than 60,000 people.

On August 9, 1945, the U.S. Army Air Forces dropped a nuclear bomb nicknamed “Fat Man” on the city of Nagasaki. Three days earlier, the U.S. dropped another bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing more than 140,000. The U.S. sent Tokyo embassy deputy chief James P. Zumwalt in an attempt to work with Japan toward “realizing a world without nuclear weapons,” said President Obama in a statement.

Last year, Obama sent Ambassador John Roos to the 65th anniversary of the bombing in Hiroshima. Roos also visited Nagasaki twice last year on additional dates.

On Tuesday, at the memorial, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue urged the government to reject nuclear power and shift away from using atomic weapons.

“This March, we were astounded by the severity of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station,” Taue said at a ceremony.

“As the people of a nation that has experienced nuclear devastation, we have continued the plea of ‘No More Hibakusha!’” he said in his speech, using the Japanese word for the WWII radiation victims.

“How has it happened that we are threatened once again by the fear of radiation? Have we lost our awe of nature? Have we become overconfident in the control we wield as human beings?”

Taue also urged that Russia not recant on their commitment to reducing nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Naoto Kan, pledged to reconsider the country's energy policy.

Taue’s plea comes five months after a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima power plant. A magnitude-9.0 quake and massive tsunami hit Japan and knocked out cooling systems at the plant. The event sparked a serious of explosions emitting radioactive materials into the air, resulting in the evacuation of more than 85,000 people surrounding the area.

Since the Fukushima disaster, Nagasaki survivors have increased their demands for an end to nuclear energy.

Last month, roughly 1,700 protestors in the capitol of Japan’s Fukushima region were chanting “Abolish all the nuclear power plants!” and “Give radiation-free Fukushima back to us.”

Taue also asked for Obama to “demonstrate his leadership toward realizing a world without nuclear weapons, and to never disappoint the people in the atomic-bombed cities or anywhere throughout the world,” reported the Japan Times.