Photo/IllutrationA mushroom cloud rises over the skies of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. (From U.S. documents related to the atomic bombing)

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Aug. 6 marks the 73rd anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, but the prayers and thoughts normally extended to the victims and survivors this year will also go to those who lost loved ones and homes in the torrential rains that hit western Japan about a month ago.

Using a timeline format, the AJW website will transmit various events in Hiroshima and around Japan taking place on this Aug. 6.

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An open letter to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe from a reporter who has long covered the nuclear weapons issue

In your speech today at the Hiroshima peace ceremony, you once again made no mention of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, continuing the trend from your speech last year.

The treaty has wording that says it is "mindful of the unacceptable suffering of and harm caused to the victims of the use of nuclear weapons (hibakusha), as well as of those affected by the testing of nuclear weapons." It was approved by 122 nations at a U.N. meeting held a year ago.

Anger and disappointment are spreading in the cities hit by atomic bombs.

At a meeting after the peace ceremony to hear the requests of hibakusha representatives, you once again expressed your intention of not signing or ratifying the treaty.

After last year's meeting, Yukio Yoshioka, the secretary-general of a Hiroshima group of A-bomb survivor organizations, expressed "anger raging throughout my body" at your decision.

Yoshioka, 89, said on Aug. 6, "It is the same thing as last year. It is not a situation that can be accepted at all. I hope he holds a deep-seated feeling that Japan is a nation that has been hit by an atomic bomb."

Your stubborn refusal to squarely face the treaty makes you inappropriate to serve as a "bridge" between the nuclear power nations and non-nuclear states as you pledged in your speech at the peace ceremony.

Regrettably, it appears as though both the international community and the cities hit by atomic bombs have seen through your stance of placing your main axis for the "bridge" only in the United States, which as an ally provides its nuclear umbrella over Japan.

One condition for a more substantive bridge role would be to display a posture of showing more empathy for the hibakusha who serve as symbols of the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons.

In previous treaties banning anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions that are considered models for the nuclear weapons ban treaty, Japan ignored the opposition of the United States and signed and ratified those treaties.

Those actions were only possible through the political decisions based on humanitarian reasons made by then Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi and then Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, respectively.

Let me conclude by including a message from Thomas Hajnoczi, the director for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Department of the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who took part in today's Hiroshima peace ceremony. Austria ratified the nuclear weapons ban treaty in May.

Hajnoczi said Austria smoothly ratified the treaty because its Constitution bans nuclear weapons. He added that whether Japan joined the treaty was totally up to the government and the Japanese people, but he recognized the strong interest held in Japan. He said the treaty had been accepted by the international community as reality and it was only a matter of time before it took effect.

Masato Tainaka

The Asahi Shimbun

ICAN's Kawasaki asks, 'Should we remain silent?'

U.N. member nations approved in July 2017 the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

In December, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its part in the treaty approval process.

And while the cities hit by atomic bombs have long held the hope that nuclear weapons will be eliminated, progress toward that goal has been slow.

Akira Kawasaki, who serves as a member of ICAN's International Steering Group, gave a lecture on Aug. 6 at the Higashi-Senda campus of Hiroshima University to an audience of about 120 people. The signing and ratification of 50 nations is needed for the treaty to take effect, but the Japanese government has shown no sign of doing either.

"Should we remain silent even as the international community moves forward?" Kawasaki asked. "I hope more people in Japan will learn of the existence of this treaty and the fact that Japan has not yet joined it."

12:30 p.m., the actress Non addresses a theater audience in Hiroshima

The actress Non and the director Sunao Katabuchi appeared on Aug. 6 at a movie theater in Hiroshima's Naka Ward where Katabuchi's hit anime movie "In This Corner of the World" is being shown. Non voiced the protagonist, Suzu, as she grows up in Hiroshima and moves to Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, a major shipbuilding city, to get married.

Non took part in the peace ceremony held in the morning at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

At the afternoon event, she said, "After doing the voice for Suzu, I began having the feeling that I had to take a closer look at the war."

She also expressed her worries about those who suffered from the torrential rains in western Japan about a month ago.

"I was concerned about those who suffered great damage so I decided to visit today and hopefully see how everyone is doing," Non said.

As the curtain was raised, a number of people in the audience welcomed Non "back home."

She and Katabuchi bowed a number of times in response to the applause and cheers.

(By Mana Nagano/ Staff Writer)

10:30 a.m., traditional picture boards used to depict tale of damage to plants and animals by atomic bomb

The traditional "kamishibai" storytelling art using picture boards was applied to an illustrated book titled "Kyochikuto Monogatari" (Tale of the oleander), which describes what happened to plants and animals when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

The book was published in 2000 by Shunpei Ogata, a Hiroshima lawyer, poet and painter. The tale is about how local residents did everything they could to put out the fire of an oleander tree that began burning after the atomic bomb was dropped.

The kamishibai was performed on the sidelines of an awards ceremony held in Hiroshima's Naka Ward for book reports submitted by elementary and junior high school students from around Japan. Of the 3,138 entries, 46 students were given awards and 43 were invited to Hiroshima to receive their award.

Ko Hatakeyama, a second-year junior high school student from Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, was given the education minister's award.

"I want to learn more about the atomic bomb and peace," he said.

The secretariat in charge of the book report contest created 4,000 copies of the 19-picture kamishibai to make the tale more accessible to children. The copies will be donated to schools and libraries around Japan.

(By Hiroki Koike/ Staff Writer)

Embers from atomic bomb still burning@Yame in Fukuoka Prefecture

Embers that were gathered from the fires in Hiroshima caused by the atomic bomb 73 years ago have been carefully preserved as "the fire of peace" in a park in Yame, Fukuoka Prefecture. The city government held a peace ceremony at the park on Aug. 6 and participants observed a moment of silence at 8:15 a.m.

The embers were collected by the late Tatsuo Yamamoto. In place of the ashes of his uncle who lived in Hiroshima, Yamamoto, who died in 2004 at 88, brought back the embers and kept a flame burning at his home. At first, Yamamoto felt nothing but hatred for the flame, but he eventually began feeling that peace would never come about through only hatred of each other. He then began calling the embers "the fire of peace." It was taken over by the village of Hoshino, which has since been merged into Yame, in 1968.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui sent a message for the Yame peace ceremony in which he expressed expectations that city residents would work together for the elimination of nuclear weapons and the realization of peace.

Hinano Haraguchi, a sixth-grader at Hoshino Elementary School, read the peace pledge and said, "We will make every effort to ensure the fire continues burning forever into the future."

(By Ryo Sasaki/ Staff Writer)

Director of Hiroshima bombing animation movie, actress meet hibakusha@Former Nakajima Honmachi area of Hiroshima city

What was once known as Nakajima Honmachi has been integrated into the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. At 9 a.m., about 50 people prayed in front of a statue of the Kannon bodhisattva.

One of those attending the small ceremony was Tokuso Hamai, 84, who lost his parents and older brother and sister.

"I want to pass on the memorial ceremony to future generations while I am still alive," he said.

The ceremony was held after the peace ceremony in the park. Among those attending were Sunao Katabuchi, who directed the hit anime movie "In This Corner of the World," and Non, the actress who voiced the protagonist, Suzu, as she experiences the bombing of Hiroshima.

(By Mana Nagano/ Staff Writer)

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The former Nakajima Honmachi area was a part of central Hiroshima city sandwiched between the Motoyasugawa and Honkawa rivers. It is now part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

The larger Nakajima district was one of the most bustling entertainment districts in Hiroshima until Aug. 6, 1945. It was packed with movie theaters, shopping arcades and homes. About 4,400 people in about 1,300 households lived in the district that was devastated by the atomic bombing.

In the hit anime movie "In This Corner of the World," the protagonist, Suzu, visits the Nakajima Honmachi district as a young girl, and the area is depicted in great detail before the destruction by the bomb.

(By Sonoko Miyazaki/ Staff Writer)

Imperial couple watches peace ceremony on TV@Imperial Palace in Tokyo

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko observed a moment of silence at about 8:15 a.m. at the Imperial Palace while watching the TV broadcast of the peace ceremony being held in Hiroshima.

The imperial couple have always observed a moment of silence every Aug. 6, but this year's will be the last before Akihito abdicates in April 2019.

Moment of silence observed by Nagasaki high school at Koshien tournament@Sakai in Osaka Prefecture

Members of the Soseikan High School team that is representing Nagasaki Prefecture at the National High School Baseball Championship at Koshien Stadium observed a moment of silence at 8:15 a.m. within the training ground of the hotel where they are staying at Sakai, Osaka Prefecture.

The team will play its first game on Aug. 9, the day the plutonium bomb was dropped on Nagasaki 73 years ago.

One of the players, Tatsuya Toda, is originally from Higashi-Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture. He said, "Aug. 9, when we play our first game, is an important day for Nagasaki. I hope we can bring good news to those in Nagasaki."

(By Hikaru Yokoyama/ Staff Writer)

Doubts about holding the anniversary ceremony in flooded areas@Saka in Hiroshima

The town of Saka suffered huge damage from the torrential rain last month. About 20 residents gathered in front of an atomic bomb memorial close to Koyaura Station of the JR Kure Line to offer a prayer at 8:15 a.m., the moment the atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

A landslide caused by the torrential rain led to the memorial being covered with dirt and sand.

Toshiki Nishitani, 72, who has been looking after the memorial for many years, said, "I thought we would not be able to observe the anniversary on Aug. 6 this year."

After the atomic bomb was dropped 73 years ago, survivors were brought to the Koyaura district. Many of them died despite the efforts made by local residents to provide care.

A local construction company provided help after this year's rain and flooding and the memorial was cleaned up.

Standing before the memorial on Aug. 6, Nishitani said, "It has once again reminded me of the tragedy that the atomic bomb brought to this area."

(By Shogo Mitsuzumi/ Staff Writer)

Praying for travel theater group members killed by the atomic bomb@Meguro in Tokyo

A memorial service was held at Gohyakurakanji temple in Tokyo's Meguro district for the nine members of the Sakuratai traveling theater group who died when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

Since 1975, those working in the theater have organized various events to be held in line with the annual memorial service. The events were intended to pass down the tragedy of the atomic bomb, but no such events were held this year because many of the key individuals who helped organize past events have died.

The poet Toshio Konno, 72, had been involved in such events for about 30 years. He attended the memorial service along with other members of the group.

"Instead of just eliminating nuclear weapons, there could be new avenues to pursue, such as an anti-war message," he said. "We have to find some way to leave behind the 'flame' for future activities in the theater world so that young people can continue in a manner of their liking."

(By Taichiro Yoshino/ Staff Writer)

8:32 a.m., Prime Minister Abe again does not refer to nuclear weapons prohibition treaty

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a five-minute speech at this year's memorial ceremony held in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

"As the only nation to be hit by the atomic bomb, it is the mission of Japan to continue with persistent efforts in order to bring about a world without nuclear weapons," Abe said.

He added, "In recent years, differences have arisen in the thinking among various nations about how to proceed with nuclear arms control."

Stressing the need to gain the cooperation of both the nuclear power nations and non-nuclear states, Abe said, "a starting point will be gaining the accurate understanding of the horrific reality experienced by atomic bomb victims."

He said Japan was resolved to play a leading role in the global community in order to serve as a bridge between the two sides while maintaining its three non-nuclear principles.

However, Abe once again did not touch upon the treaty approved by U.N. member states in July 2017 to prohibit nuclear weapons.

One man at the ceremony stood up in the middle of Abe's speech and said, "I am leaving because I do not want to hear a speech by a prime minister of a nation waging war."

Protesters close to the ceremony site shouted slogans opposed to Abe during his speech.

(By Narumi Ota/ Staff Writer)

Train car survived atomic bomb, now serves as witness to history

One of the streetcars operated by Hiroshima Electric Railway Co. that stopped closest to the Atomic Bomb Dome is still in service after surviving the atomic bombing.

Kazukuni Saeki, 73, was just two months old when the atomic bomb was dropped. He used the streetcar to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

"The streetcar that survived the atomic bombing is a witness to history," he said. "I hope people will not forget this day when they see a streetcar from that time still operating."

On Aug. 6, 1945, 108 of the 123 lines in Hiroshima were damaged by the atomic bomb. Partial service was restored three days later and the trains became a symbol of reconstructing the city.

Two of the three streetcars that survived the atomic bombing are still running.

Around 9 a.m., 'black rain' fell on Hiroshima

Soon after the atomic bombing, the so-called "black rain" began falling on the city. Rain clouds were formed when radioactive materials from the bomb and ashes rose up into the sky. Rain was recorded until the evening of Aug. 6, 1945, mainly in the northwestern part of the city.

The late writer Masuji Ibuse published a novel titled "Black Rain" and it was later made into a movie. Black rain was also included in a work by the late manga artist Keiji Nakazawa, who is also known for his iconic "Hadashi no Gen" (Barefoot Gen) manga series, which depicted how the people of Hiroshima picked themselves up from the devastation of the atomic bombing.

The central government defined "black rain" as precipitation that fell on an area from ground zero measuring 15 kilometers in a east-west direction and 29 km in a north-south direction. One analysis was that the heaviest rain fell on an area measuring 11 km east to west and 19 km north to south. In 1976, residents who lived in that area were eligible to receive health checks paid for by taxpayer funds and were given handbooks designating them as hibakusha if they were diagnosed with cancer.

But people who lived outside the designated area also claimed to have suffered from health problems because the black rain fell on them as well.

The Hiroshima city government has asked for an expansion of the area, but while discussions were held with the health ministry, the decision reached in July 2012 was that it was difficult to expand the area.

Lawsuits have been filed at Hiroshima District Court seeking government support for the health problems caused by the black rain outside of the designated area.

Hiroshima high school observes moment of silence at national baseball tournament

Players from Koryo High School that is representing Hiroshima Prefecture this year at the 100th National High School Baseball Championship lined up in front of their hotel in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, at 8:15 a.m. and observed a moment of silence while facing in the direction of Hiroshima.

8:16, Hiroshima Mayor Matsui reads this year's Peace Declaration

Reading this year's Peace Declaration, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said, "If the human family forgets history or stops confronting it, we could again commit a terrible error."

8:15, participants at Hiroshima peace ceremony observe moment of silence

At 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was exploded for the first time over Hiroshima.

According to the city government, as of Aug. 5, a total of 314,118 have died as a result of the atomic bombing 73 years ago.

Participants at this year's peace ceremony observed a moment of silence in front of the Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims where the names of those who have died are placed.

8 a.m., Hiroshima peace ceremony begins

The Hiroshima peace ceremony begins at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to mark the 73rd anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb.

7:09 a.m, observation aircraft flies over Hiroshima

At 7:09 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1945, a weather observation aircraft flew over Hiroshima. It was followed by a B-29 bomber that took off from Tinian island next to Saipan, the site of some of the fiercest fighting in World War II. The bomber was dubbed the "Enola Gay" in honor of the mother of the plane's captain. The bomber carried an atomic bomb weighing four tons and measuring three meters in length. It was called "Little Boy."

Uranium 235 was used in that bomb, and the energy released was equivalent to 15,000 tons of explosives. Little Boy was different in shape and contents from the "Fat Man" plutonium bomb dropped on Nagasaki three days later.

It is said that the U.S. military wanted to test two types of nuclear bombs.

A bombing warning had been issued for Hiroshima from the evening of Aug. 5 until the morning of Aug. 6. However, that was lifted after the observation aircraft left the skies over Hiroshima at 7:31 a.m.

Local residents went back to their daily lives with a sense of relief.

The temperature in Hiroshima at 8 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1945, was 26.7 degrees.

The observation aircraft transmitted to the Enola Gay that a bombing was possible because the weather over Hiroshima was good.

Not having suffered from bombings like cities in the vicinity, Hiroshima was almost totally unprepared for any bombing attack.

The last Aug. 6 of the Heisei Era

Like this year's Aug. 6, the skies over Hiroshima 73 years ago were clear as the sun beat down on the city. People in the streets had their arms extending out from short-sleeve shirts baked by the sun as they commuted to work and school.

At 8:15 a.m., a flash flew through the air and the city was devastated by heat rays and the blast from the atomic bomb.

Many innocent lives were lost due to a single bomb.

Seventy-three years after that fateful day, Hiroshima is now also suffering from great damage caused by torrential rains and flooding. Homes were swept away by landslides, and more than 100 people in Hiroshima Prefecture alone were killed.

The last Aug. 6 of the Heisei Era also comes a month after that natural disaster.

But, Hiroshima has recovered from any number of difficulties.

What brings people together in the city is the memory of that day as well as a hope for peace. We have looked at a special day in Hiroshima from various angles.

(By Ayumu Ishiki/ Staff Writer)