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Japan marked the 76th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Friday.

In the annual ceremony, scaled-down this year due to Covid-19, citizens observed a minute of silence at 8:15 am local time - the exact time the first bomb hit Hiroshima 76 years ago.

The United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, destroying the city and killing an estimated 140,000 people. It dropped a second bomb three days later on Nagasaki, killing another 70,000. Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945, bringing an end to the Second World War.

Church in service of peace

Ahead of Friday’s commemoration, Andrea di Angelis of Vatican News spoke to Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki, who reflected on the blast anniversary and the Church’s role in working for peace.

Reflecting on the massive destruction wrought by the bombs, the Archbishop noted that the effects, passed on to following generations, bring the importance of working for peace to the fore.

He recalled that during Pope Francis’ visit to Japan in November 2019, the Holy Father’s central message was peace and the protection of the right to life for all creatures – not only physical life but also spiritual. Archbishop Takami explained that this is also a mission given to us by Jesus.

Inspired by this, the Church has to continue not only to pray for peace, but also to promote the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, so that it can be signed and ratified by all nations, and the world can finally become free of nuclear weapons.

“We know that a world without nuclear weapons does not automatically make for peace,” he said, adding that abolishing nuclear weapons is one of the challenges the world has to surmount on its path towards peace.

“We have to make many efforts toward renewal, to recreate the human spirit by insisting on the importance of the practice of love taught and showed by Jesus Christ.”