United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Saturday warned that the current war in Ukraine and other conflicts worldwide might repeat the disastrous experience that people there in Hiroshima went through 77 years ago.
Around 140,000 people died when Hiroshima was bombed by the United States on Aug. 6, 1945 - a toll that includes those who perished after the blast from radiation exposure.
After the bell rang at exactly 8.15 am local time and the entire city was paralyzed for a minute's silence, the governor of the province of Hiroshima and the mayor of the city recalled the horrors of the event and the suffering the local people went through, which pushed survivors (known as hibakusha) to take it upon themselves to campaign for the banning of nuclear weapons worldwide.
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui quoted Russian writer Leo Tolstoi's phrase Never build your happiness on the misfortune of others, for only in their happiness can you find your own.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is from Hiroshima, also spoke about the attack and Japan's commitment ever since against a possible encore of such a dreadful experience.
Guterres concurred: Humanity is playing with a loaded gun, said the Portuguese dignitary in the only speech in English. He also warned of the risks posed by crises in Ukraine, the Middle East, and the Korean peninsula as he too described the horrors endured by the Japanese city. Tens of thousands of people were killed in this city in the blink of an eye. Women, children, and men were incinerated in a hellish fire, he said. Survivors were cursed with a radioactive legacy of cancer and other health problems.
We must ask: What have we learned from the mushroom cloud that swelled above this city? Guterres wondered. Today, crises with grave nuclear undertones are spreading fast - the Middle East, to the Korean peninsula, to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Three days after the Hiroshima bombing, Washington dropped a plutonium bomb on the Japanese port city of Nagasaki, killing about 74,000 people and leading to the end of World War II.
While the United States remains the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons in conflict, 13,000 are now held in state arsenals worldwide, Guterres explained.