Hiroshima bombing victims remembered in Dublin

Seventy-one years on people in Hiroshima are still struggling with illness, Japanese ambassador says

More than seven decades since the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima people are still attempting to cope with its legacy and health consequences, the Japanese ambassador to Ireland said at a commemoration event on Saturday.

Mari Miyoshi was the main speaker at an anniversary event in Dublin's Merrion Square, which has been held every year since 1980 and is seen as an exemplar of Ireland's staunch opposition to nuclear weapons.

"Seventy one years ago in Hiroshima city a single bomb took more than 140,000 lives. Three days later a second atomic bomb was also dropped on Nagasaki city and 80,000 lives were lost," Ms Miyoshi told the modest gathering by the park's memorial cherry tree.

“In both cities innocent people’s lives were lost instantly and indiscriminately.


“Even now, 71 years later, a lot of people are still struggling with illnesses and some are dying because of those effects.”

The ambassador said Japan had continued to promote global nuclear disarmament through the UN and called for greater transparency on decreasing stock piles held by nuclear powers.

She said she hoped more world leaders would visit Hiroshima following Barack Obama in May, the first sitting US president to do so.

“I firmly believe that with the efforts of the international community and the good will of people like you who have gathered here today we will one day finally achieve our aim of eliminating all nuclear weapons in the world.”

On August 6th, 1945 the US dropped the atomic bomb “Little Boy” on Hiroshima in a bid to bring a decisive conclusion to the Second World War. This was followed on August 9th by the “Fat Man” plutonium bomb dropped on Nagasaki.

Saturday's anniversary event was organised by the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), whose president the Rev Canon Patrick Comerford excoriated those willing to deploy nuclear weapons in future conflicts.

While honing in specifically on the perceived threat carried by US presidential nominee Donald Trump, Mr Comerford criticised British prime Theresa May following her recent support for the renewal of Trident, the UK's nuclear deterrent.

He quoted former US president Ronald Reagan who said "A nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought. Our dream is to see the day when nuclear weapons will be banished from the face of the earth."

Cllr Mary Freehill from Dublin City Council said Ireland has a "proud history" of promoting nuclear disarmament and was the first to propose an international treaty on nuclear weapons at the UN in 1958, ratified 10 years later.

“Today it is a reminder that we must never, ever give up on our commitment to disarmament,” she said.

The ceremony was followed by a minute’s silence and included music and a reading from the poet Hugh McFadden.

In Japan, the mayor of Hiroshima also urged world leaders to emulate Mr Obama and visit the city.

A peace bell tolled at 8.15am local time, the exact moment the US warplane dropped the bomb. About 50,000 participants, including aging survivors and dignitaries, held a moment of silence at a memorial ceremony in the western Japanese city.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times