The Two-Way
3:06 pm
Tue August 9, 2011

U.S. Official Is First To Attend Nagasaki Ceremony Marking Nuclear Strike

A ceremonial bell tolled in Nagasaki, Japan, Tuesday morning, marking the beginning of a moment of silence to remember tens of thousands of people killed by an atomic bomb that fell from a U.S. plane 66 years ago. And for the first time, the ceremony was attended by a U.S. government official.

James Zumwalt, deputy chief of the U.S. embassy in Tokyo, offered a wreath of flowers to Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan at the ceremony. And Kan, speaking just months after a catastrophe struck Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, pledged that his country would rely less on nuclear energy in the future.

"We must never forget," Kan said of Nagasaki, according to the AP, "and it must never be repeated."

Stars and Stripes, the media outfit serving the military community, posted this video of the ceremony:

Including Zumwalt, representatives from 44 nations attended Tuesday's Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony, which drew an audience of 6,000.

An article in Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun describes some of the ceremony:

At 11:02 a.m., the time the atomic bomb was dropped on the city on Aug. 9, 1945, the Bell of Nagasaki was rung amid pouring rain and one minute of silence was observed.

During the ceremony, three volumes listing the names of 3,288 atomic bomb survivors who had either died or been confirmed dead in the past year were placed in the black marble vault in front of the Peace Statue at the park. The vault now holds 156 volumes listing 155,546 people.

Coming at the end of World War II, the atomic bombs that were dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki have long been controversial. And a post over at The Wall Street Journal describes a New Twist on Hiroshima 'Revisionism' put forth by historian Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, who suggests that the Soviet Union, not the atomic bomb, was the true cause of the Japanese surrender.

That's the idea explored by Gareth Cook of The Boston Globe, who examined Hasegawa's analysis and asked other historians for their opinions.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.