Bells tolled in Hiroshima on Saturday as the city marked the 77th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing, with officials including the United Nations Secretary General warning of a new arms race following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, and, shortly after, Russian President Vladimir Putin had obliquely raised the possibility of a nuclear strike. The conflict has also heightened concerns about the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear plants.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres joined the thousands packed into the Peace Park in the centre of the city to mark the anniversary of the bombing that killed 140,000 before the end of 1945, only the second time a U.N. Secretary General has taken part in the annual ceremony.
“Nuclear weapons are nonsense. They guarantee no safety – only death and destruction,” Guterres said.
“Three quarters of a century later, we must ask what we’ve learned from the mushroom cloud that swelled above this city in 1945.”
Guterres sidestepped a direct mention of Russia, which calls its invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation.”
Hiroshima mayor Kazumi Matsui, whose city this year did not invite the Russian ambassador to the ceremony, was more pointed and critical of Moscow’s military actions in Ukraine.
“In invading Ukraine, the Russian leader, elected to protect the lives and property of his people, is using them as instruments of war, stealing the lives and livelihoods of civilians in a different country,” Matsui said.