HIROSHIMA, Japan, Aug. 6 (UPI) — As thousands of people gathered in Japan to honor the 71st anniversary of the United States bombing of Hiroshima, the city’s mayor called on world leaders to visit the site.
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui called on leaders of the world to “unify and manifest our passion in action,” as he spoke in front of a crowd during the anniversary of the atomic bomb that killed 140,000 people.
According to Voice of America, 50,000 people attended the ceremony near the epicenter of the bomb at Hiroshima’s Peace Park. A moment of silence was also held during the gathering at 8:15 a.m. to commemorate the time the bomb exploded over Hiroshima.
Matsui also praised the actions of U.S. President Barack Obama, who became the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima in May, and encouraged other leaders to follow in his footsteps in hopes that visiting the site might “etch the reality of the atomic bombings in each heart.”
During his speech, Matsui hearkened back to a call made by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, “to realize a world free of nuclear weapons.”
“I expect him to join with President Obama and display leadership in this endeavor,” he said of Abe.
Abe himself addressed the crowd and said he will continue his efforts to ask both nuclear and non-nuclear states for cooperation in creating a world free of nuclear weapons.