As many as 45,000 people congregated for a moment of silence at the ceremonial Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park near the commemorative epicentre of the 1945 bombing that killed up to 140,000 people in 1945.
The bombing of Nagasaki three days later killed another 70,000, prompting Japan’s surrender in World War II.
Japan marked the 69th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima on Wednesday, with the city’s mayor inviting world leaders to see those cities targeted by atomic bombs in the hopes of demonstrating the need for categorical nuclear disarmament.
Speaking before a crowd of survivors, the mayor urged US President Barack Obama and others to visit the cities, referring to a proposal made at a ministerial meeting in April of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative in Hiroshima.
“President Obama and all leaders of nuclear-armed nations, please respond to that call by visiting the A-bombed cities as soon as possible to see what happened with your own eyes,” Mayor Kazumi Matsui said.
The number of surviving victims in attendance was just over 190,000 this year. Their average age is 79, and many of the attendants at the ceremony were younger relatives and descendants of the victims.
The atomic bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan were carried out by the United States during the final stages of World War II in August 1945.
The two bombings were the first and remain to be the only use of nuclear weapons in the history of warfare.