Leuven and Hiroshima pay tribute to victims of atomic bomb attack
The Japanese city of Hiroshima commemorated the victims of the first atomic bomb attack 78 years ago on Sunday, while the city of Leuven holds a four-day commemoration.
Hiroshima mayor Kazumi Matsui and Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida took part in the memorial ceremony at the city's Peace Park. A minute of silence was held at 8.15, the time the American bomber Enola Gay dropped the atomic bomb Little Boy on 6 August 1945.
In a speech, the mayor highlighted the growing nuclear threat in the world as he called on government leaders to distance themselves from the principle of nuclear deterrence. He expressed his hope that the G7 leaders who had visited Peace Park during their summit in May were affected by "the spirit" of Hiroshima.
Meanwhile, in Leuven, a commemoration for the nuclear attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and a call for a ban on nuclear weapons is taking place from 6-9 August. On Saturday evening, "Lights for Peace" burned in Saint Michael's Church, and the city will fly the Mayors for Peace flag.
"By hanging out the Mayors for Peace flag from Saturday 6 August at 8.15 until Tuesday 9 August at 11.02 [the times the bombs were dropped], Leuven, as a city of peace, is showing its solidarity with the two cities that fell victim to nuclear weapons," said city councillor Lies Corneillie.
"The message of peace must continue to be spread"
Leuven's mayor, Mohamed Ridouani, called for an end to nuclear weapons. "Unfortunately, there are still many places where people face violence and conflict daily. Even in Europe: the war in Ukraine is still raging," he said. "So the message of peace must continue to be spread."
Belgium has not signed the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, which entered into force on 22 January 2021. Leuven signed the ICAN Cities Appeal, a global call by cities and towns in support of the treaty, in July 2021.
The US attack on Hiroshima killed 140,000 people. Some died immediately; others died months later due to radiation. A second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, three days later, killed nearly 75,000 people.
©JIJI PRESS / AFP