TOKYO (AP) — The mayor of Nagasaki on Saturday raised concern over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push toward Japan’s more assertive defense policy as the city marked the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing.
Speaking at the ceremony in Nagasaki’s Peace Park, Mayor Tomihisa Taue urged Abe’s government to listen to growing public concerns over Japan’s commitment to its pacifist pledge.
Thousands of attendants, including U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and a record number of representatives from 51 countries, offered a minute of silence and prayer for the victims at 11:02 a.m., the moment the bomb was dropped over Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, as bells rang. They also lay wreaths of white and yellow chrysanthemums at the Statue of Peace.
The U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945, prompting Tokyo’s World War II surrender. The first on Hiroshima killed 140,000 people and the Nagasaki bomb killed another 70,000.
The anniversary comes as Japan is divided over the government’s decision to allow its military to defend foreign countries and play greater roles overseas. To achieve the goal, Abe’s Cabinet revised its interpretation of Japan’s war-renouncing constitution.
Polls show more than half of respondents are opposed to the decision, mainly because of sensitivity over Japan’s wartime past and devastation at home.