22 March 2018

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08/10/2017 JAPAN

Seventy-two years after the Nagasaki bomb, people pray to the Virgin Mary as US-North Korea tensions rise

At least a thousand people took part in a torchlit procession behind the head of the statue of the Virgin that survived the atomic destruction. Nagasaki Mayor, who fears atomic weapons could be used again in the near future, called on Shinzo Abe to sign the UN treaty banning nuclear weapons, which was snubbed by the great powers and their allies.

Nagasaki (AsiaNews) – A fragment of a statue of the Virgin Mary was carried in procession last night at the Nagasaki Peace Park to mark the end of the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombing that destroyed the city and killed more than 70,000 people.

The badly burnt head of the Virgin is what remains of the original statue, destroyed by the atomic blast. At least a thousand people took part in the torchlit procession carrying this a piece of history, which is almost a relic.

The march brought to a close the day’s events, which began in the morning with a ceremony that culminated in a minute of silence at 11.02 am, the hour when the bomb was dropped, as the peace bell rang.

The bomb obliterated the city and the Catholic cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, also known as the Urakami church.

Speaking at the ceremony, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue, said that "the international situation surrounding nuclear weapons is becoming increasingly tense".

In view of this, he noted that "a strong sense of anxiety is spreading across the globe that in the not too distant future these weapons could actually be used again," a clear reference to the growing tensions between the United States and North Korea and the mutual threats of lethal action against Pyongyang and Guam.

“The nuclear threat will not end as long as nations continue to claim that nuclear weapons are essential for their national security,” Taue explained.

Instead, he called on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons adopted on 7 July 2017 at the United Nations by 122 countries, following negotiations to which Japan (a US ally) refused to take part. All the great nuclear powers also snubbed the treaty.

Taue said that Japan’s absence, even during the negotiations, is "incomprehensible to those of us living in the cities that suffered atomic bombing”

Abe, in a speech that was almost a repeat of what he said in Hiroshima three days ago, did not mention the UN nuclear ban treaty.

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