On August 6, 75 years ago the world changed - a USA warplane dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan killing 1,40,000 people.
The US dropped a second bomb three days later on the southern city of Nagasaki, estimated to have claimed 74,000 lives in 1945 alone.
The small crowd at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park stood for a moment of silence at 8:15 a.m., the exact moment an atomic bomb nicknamed "Little Boy" was dropped from the USA warplane Enola Gay, killing 140,000 people and reducing the entire city to ruins. The fewer than 1,000 attendees was one-tenth of those attending in past years. "It's frustrating, but there is not much we individuals can do".
At a time when tensions between some world powers have heightened over the origin of the virus and geopolitical rivalries in the face of the global economic slowdown, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said countries should put aside their differences and come together to overcome both man-made and natural challenges.
Children pray for atomic bomb victims in front of the cenotaph for the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing, at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan, August 6, 2018.
His speech highlights what survivors feel is the hypocrisy of Japan's government, which hosts 50,000 American troops and is protected by the USA nuclear umbrella. "Division, distrust and a lack of dialogue threaten to return the world to unrestrained strategic nuclear competition".
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has expressed hope that China will join the United States and Russian Federation in a framework to advance nuclear disarmament.
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"Many survivors are offended by the prime minister of this country who does not sign the nuclear weapons prohibition treaty", said Keiko Ogura, 84, who survived the atomic bombing at age eight.
Survivors, their relatives and a small number of foreign dignitaries commemorated the anniversary with prayers, songs and calls for world peace.
And U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who addressed the gathering by video message because of the pandemic, warned that "the only way to totally eliminate nuclear risk is to totally eliminate nuclear weapons".
"Seventy-five years is far too long not to have learned that the possession of nuclear weapons diminishes, rather than reinforces, security", he said.
An aging group of survivors, known as hibakusha, feel a growing urgency to tell their stories, in hopes of reaching a younger generation.
Many peace events, including their talks, leading up to the anniversary were cancelled because of the coronavirus, but some survivors have teamed with students or pacifist groups to speak at online events, sometimes connecting with worldwide audiences.
He said one of President Donald Trump's top priorities is ensuring that the world does not have "a really bad day" as a result of the use of a nuclear weapon.
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"And yet, Hiroshima recovered, becoming a symbol of peace".
Japan's health ministry says that average age of survivors is now 83.3 years old and there is some fear the lessons from the bombing could be lost.
"A subsequent upsurge in nationalism led to World War II and the atomic bombings".
The Holy See was among the first countries to sign and ratify the United Nations nuclear prohibition treaty.
"We need non-nuclear states to help us and pressure the Japanese government into signing".
Numerous traditionally sombre events to mark the anniversary have been cancelled because of the pandemic, a global threat that carries an all-too-familiar fear for some survivors, including 83-year-old Keiko Ogura, who lived through the Hiroshima bombing.
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