The southern Japanese city of Nagasaki briefly fell silent Tuesday morning to recall the wartime nuclear attack 60 years ago that turned it into an inferno, instantly killing tens of thousands of people - and hastening the end of World War II.
A bronze bell tolled in Nagasaki's Peace Memorial Park Tuesday to mark the exact moment when a plutonium bomb, dropped by a U.S. warplane, exploded 500 meters over this southern Japanese port city 60 years ago.
As the bell rang for one minute, the 6,000 people at the ceremony, including hundreds of A-bomb survivors, silently prayed for the estimated 80,000 who died on that day, and the tens of thousands more who later succumbed to radiation-related diseases.
Speaking at the memorial, Nagasaki Mayor Itchoh Ito expressed anger towards the world's nuclear powers. He said those nations, and the United States in particular, have ignored their international commitments on nuclear deterrence, something he said Nagasaki strongly resents because that attitude tramples the hopes of the world's people.
While Americans' anger and anxiety over the horror of the 9-11 terrorist attacks are understandable, Mr. Ito says, they should question whether their security is enhanced by the U.S. government's policies of maintaining ten thousand nuclear weapons, carrying out repeated sub-critical nuclear tests, and pursuing the development of new miniature nuclear weapons.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, enmeshed in a fresh domestic political crisis that led him to dissolve parliament on Monday, made a brief speech, very similar to the one he delivered three days previously at Hiroshima's ceremony memorializing its A-bomb victims.
Mr. Koizumi says Japan will adhere to its pacifist constitution and will continue not to possess, introduce or allow nuclear weapons on its soil.
The most heart-stirring remarks, however, were made by one of survivors of the August 9, 1945 blast - 74-year-old Fumie Sakamoto.
Ms. Sakamoto says that in the presence of the souls of the victims of the blast, she wants to demand that Nagasaki be the world's last site of an atomic bombing.
The horror of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki prompted a devastated Japan to surrender a week later, ending the World War II almost six years after it began.