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Nagasaki Prays for World Peace

August 9, 1999

TOKYO (AP) _ The people of Nagasaki fell silent on Monday amid the clang of bells, the shriek of sirens and the flutter of doves marking the moment 54 years ago when an atomic bomb shattered their city.

Three days earlier, Hiroshima had felt the blast of the world’s first atomic bombing, when 140,000 people died. Then on Aug. 9, 1945, a second American A-bomb killed more than 60,000 people in Nagasaki. Japan surrendered unconditionally six days later, on Aug. 15, 1945. It was the end of World War II.

``Our city of Nagasaki was instantly transformed into charred ruins,″ Nagasaki Mayor Itcho Ito said in a commemorative ceremony Monday. ``From this hellish experience, we have gained the conviction that the existence of nuclear weapons cannot be tolerated.″

The pain of that day, the mayor reminded the world, has yet to end.

More than half a century later, those who survived the blast still suffer physically and emotionally. Many fell victim to radiation sickness and live in fear that their children might become sick or targets of social discrimination.

Some people shun marriage with bomb victims or their descendants because of fears about radiation sickness being passed down through the generations.

``Many of those who remain today live in a state of loneliness and anxiety,″ Ito said.

Misao Hirano, 78, who lost seven brothers and sisters in the bombing, joined about 1,000 others at a Mass held at the reconstructed Urakami Cathedral.

``Every year, this day brings back sad memories,″ she told the Kyodo News agency tearfully.

At 11:02 a.m. on Monday, the instant when the bomb exploded, people with hands clasped in prayer observed a moment of silence.

Bells at churches and Buddhist temples echoed through the port city 610 miles southwest of Tokyo. Firehouse sirens wailed, and white doves flapped into the sky.

Each year, the victims of the bombing who have died since the previous anniversary are added to an official list kept by the city.

The list, which does not include those who died instantly, was started in 1968 with more than 26,000 names. The city acknowledges that some names are probably missing because of a lack of records.

This year, the names of 2,733 people were added to the list, which now holds the names of 121,588 people.

In a separate anniversary ceremony in Nagasaki, more than 200 people gathered to remember the 10,000 Koreans who died in the bombing.

The Koreans had been forcibly brought to Nagasaki as workers during Japan’s 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula.

Koreans in Japan, who now number about 600,000, still suffer discrimination in hiring and other aspects of life.

``We want to appeal to everyone to end discrimination,″ Rim Ho Gang, a member of a Korean residents’ group, told The Associated Press from Nagasaki.

At the main commemorative ceremony, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, in a message delivered by one of his Cabinet ministers, praised a resolution adopted at a U.N. conference held in Nagasaki in November to make sure that it remains ``the last city″ to suffer atomic attack.

``As the only nation in the world to suffer atomic bombings, we must be determined never to repeat the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,″ Obuchi said.

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