The site of the world's worst atomic bomb attack echoed with choirs of schoolchildren and the solemn ringing of bells Friday as Hiroshima marked its biggest memorial yet and the first to be attended by the U.S. and other major nuclear powers.
Washington's decision to send U.S. Ambassador John Roos to the 65th anniversary of the bombing was seen by many as potentially paving the way for President Barack Obama to visit Hiroshima — which would be unprecedented for a sitting U.S. leader.
Along with the U.S., Britain and France also made their first official appearance at the memorial, as well as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Altogether, 74 nations were represented.
Roos said the memorial was a chance to show resolve toward nuclear disarmament: "For the sake of future generations, we must continue to work together to realize a world without nuclear weapons," he said in a statement.
About 140,000 people were killed or died within months when the American B-29 "Enola Gay" bombed Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. Three days later, about 80,000 people died after the United States attacked Nagasaki.
According to Japan's Kyodo news agency, the average age of the survivors is over 76 years, and the number of certified survivors has fallen to 227,565 from a peak of 370,000.