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Japan marked the 65th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima Friday with the United States represented at the ceremony for the first time.

A peace bell tolled at 8:15 a.m., the time the bomb was dropped by the U.S. B-29 warplane Enola Gay on August 6, 1945, as tens of thousands of elderly survivors, children and dignitaries held a minute of silence under the burning summer sun.

“Clearly, the urgency of nuclear weapons abolition is permeating our global conscience,” Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba said in a speech followed by the release of white doves.

Japan often refers to its position as the only country to have suffered nuclear attacks when calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The United States dropped a second atomic bomb on the southern city of Nagasaki days after the one on Hiroshima.

But Prime Minister Naoto Kan reaffirmed the need for Japan to stay under the U.S. “nuclear umbrella,” highlighting the paradox of Japan’s dependence on Washington’s nuclear capability even as it shuns the possession of such weapons.

“I think that nuclear deterrence continues to be necessary for our nation at a time when there are unclear and uncertain factors,” Kyodo news agency quoted Kan as saying after the ceremony.

Source: Yoko Kubota for Reuters.

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