August 6th, 1945; a day that will forever live in infamy. The day that the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, obliterating approximately 146,000 people, destroying a once bustling metropolis, and changing the way warfare was waged.
Seventy-two years later, on August 6th, 2017, approximately 50,000 people, including representatives from 80 different nations, came together to attend an annual ceremony at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, according to NPR. During this time, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a global effort to put an end to the use of nuclear weapons.
“For us to truly realize a world without nuclear weapons, the participation of both nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states is necessary,” he said.
Japan remains the only country to have ever come under a nuclear attack, so their stance is logical; they have seen firsthand the destruction that nuclear weapons are capable of. So when the United Nations reached its first agreement on a nuclear weapons ban, it may have come as a surprise that Japan, along with the nine-nuclear armed nations, refused to participate in the negotiations and vote. This is because they believe it does little to counter the “grave threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program” and hope for a stronger agreement in the future.
U.N. Secretary General António Guterres also called for the U.N. and countries all over the world to do more to get rid of nuclear weapons:
“(O)ur dream of a world free of nuclear weapons remains far from reality. The states possessing nuclear weapons have a special responsibility to undertake concrete and irreversible steps in nuclear disarmament.”