A peace vigil was held yesterday at the Otago Museum Reserve Peace Pole to mark 72 years since atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki towards the end of World War 2.
The University of Otago’s National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies organised the vigil, which fell on the same day, August 9, as an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki in 1945.
On August 6, 1945, a bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies chairman Prof Kevin Clements told The Star it was important to recognise Nagasaki because more attention was typically given to the bomb which fell on Hiroshima.
“It’s important to remind ourselves that there were two cities that were obliterated.”
Between 35,000 and 40,000 people died in the days and months following the explosion, according to Wikipedia.
Prof Clements said today’s generation did not seem to feel that there was any particular danger from nuclear weapons any longer, but this was not the case.
“The reality is that we still have 15,000 of them.”
He said nuclear threat levels had risen in the past six months so there was reason to be worried about the implications of an accidental or an intentional nuclear strike.
Prof Clements said the recently adopted United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons signed by 122 countries was important “symbolically”.
That treaty was not signed by nuclear weapon states the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and France. North Korea also did not sign.
Prof Clements said the challenge was “to bring the nuclear-powered states into conversation with those states that have signed on to the prohibition treaty about how they might begin contemplating defence strategies without nuclear weapons”.
Prof Clements and National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies director Prof Richard Jackson both delivered speeches at the vigil.
The O-Taiko Dunedin drum ensemble gave a performance and Michelle Jackson played the flute.
There was a moment of silent prayer as participants placed paper cranes around the peace pole in remembrance of the bomb victims.