(WTNH) Thousands of people bowed their heads in silence and prayer in Hiroshima, Japan today, at the exact moment 70-years ago when the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city.
It was the first time a nuclear weapon had been used in warfare. The bombing ended up killing 140-thousand people, many of them dying instantly, others from radiation poisoning. It launched an ongoing debate about the morality of using such a powerful weapon, even though defenders have always insisted it helped allied forces avoid an invasion of the Japanese mainland, which could have cost many more lives.
Protestors used the occasion to speak against several security bills being pushed by Japanese Prime MInister Shinzo Abe’s government that could send Japanese troops into combat for the first time since World War ll. Abe and his political allies are calling for a stronger security stance by Japan, which has been governed by a pacifist constitution since the end of the war. Abe says the new policies are necessary to ensure Japan’s safety.
In three days the country will mark the 70th anniversary of the second atomic bomb, dropped on the city of Nagasaki. 40,000 people were killed instantly in that blast. Six days later, Japan surrendered unconditionally, bringing an end to history’s deadliest war. The Nagasaki blast marked the last time a nuclear weapon has been used in warfare.