72nd anniversary of atomic bombing marked by prayers

Lanterns floating on Green Lake during the 2014 Hiroshima to Hope event

No sitting U.S. president had ever visited this city, destroyed by an atomic bomb on August 6, 1945, in one of the final moves of World War II.

However, in June, Japan had supported the United Kingdom, France and the USA in dismissing a United Nations treaty banning atomic weapons.

Traditionally, the minute of silence was announced exactly at 8:15 am local time at the moment when the first atomic bombing in the world was carried out on August 6, 1945.

"The states possessing nuclear weapons have a special responsibility to undertake concrete and irreversible steps in nuclear disarmament", United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said in a message delivered for him at the annual memorial Saturday in Hiroshima, Japan.

Japan is the only country to have suffered atomic attacks.

"Today, we pledge together with the millions of people all over the world to work tirelessly for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons and all weapons", said a student.

Hiroshima mayor Kazumi Matsui called on the Japanese government to sign the treaty banning nuclear weapons and demanded more compassionate assistance to aging hibakusha, as well as to "the many others also suffering mentally and physically from the effects of radiation".

"Humankind must never commit such an act, " he added, urging nuclear states, as well as Japan, to join the United Nations nuclear weapons ban treaty adopted in July.

"Our dream of a world free of nuclear weapons remains far from reality".

He noted that adoption of the treaty was the outcome of the campaign focused on the unconditional unacceptability of the use of nuclear weapons. OREPA has events each August remembering the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki near the end of World War II.

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