TOKYO — The Japanese city of Nagasaki marked the 65th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bomb attack on Monday with a record 32 countries attending — but no American representative.
A moment of silence was observed at 11:02 a.m., the time when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the southern Japanese city on Aug. 9, 1945, in the waning days of World War II.
Nagasaki was flattened three days after the United States detonated its first nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. About 80,000 people were killed in Nagasaki, while some 140,000 people were killed or died within months in Hiroshima. Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, ending World War II.
The Nagasaki ceremony began with a chorus of aging survivors of the atomic bombing and Mayor Tomihisa Taue calling for a nuclear-free world.
"Nagasaki, together with Hiroshima, will continue to make the utmost efforts until the world gets rid of all nuclear weapons," he said.
While the United States sent its first delegation to Friday's memorial ceremony in Hiroshima, it did not dispatch a representative to the Nagasaki anniversary.
A Nagasaki city official said delegations from a record 32 countries, including nuclear powers Britain and France, attended Monday's ceremony.
The United States decided to drop the bombs because Washington believed it would hasten the end of the war and avert the need to wage prolonged and bloody land battles on Japan's main island. That concern was heightened by Japan's desperate efforts to control outlying islands such as Iwo Jima and Okinawa as the Allies closed in.
US Ambassador John Roos became the first American representative to attend the Hiroshima ceremony last week.
Former president Jimmy Carter visited Hiroshima's Peace Museum in 1984, years after he was out of office. The highest-ranking American to visit while in office is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who went in 2008. Roos also visited Hiroshima soon after assuming his post last year.