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Pleas for peace mark VJ Day

14 August 2015


Survivor: a head of the Virgin Mary from Urakami Cathedral, which was the only part of a statue to survive, is carried in procession in the Peace Park in Nagasaki on Sunday, the 70th anniversary of the atomic bomb’s being dropped there

Survivor: a head of the Virgin Mary from Urakami Cathedral, which was the only part of a statue to survive, is carried in procession in the Peace Park...

SECURITY has been stepped up around St Martin-in-the-Fields in London ahead of a service on Saturday to mark the 70th anniversary of VJ Day, the end of the Second World War.

The move has been made after an undercover investigation by Sky News revealed a plot by Islamic State to attack the service, which will be attended by the Queen and senior political figures, as well as veterans and their families.

The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, and on Nagasaki three days later, killed an estimated 120,000 people; tens of thousands more died later as a result of radiation poisoning. The anniversary has been marked with services in Japan and Europe.

On 6 August, bells tolled in Hiroshima before a silent commemoration attended by the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzō Abe. Later, as night fell, paper lanterns were carried through the streets and placed in the Motoyasu River.

"As the only country ever attacked by an atomic bomb, we have a mission to create a world without nuclear arms," Mr Abe said, in a speech to the tens of thousands of people gathered in the city’s Peace Park. "We have been tasked with conveying the inhumanity of nuclear weapons, across generations and borders."

As part of the growing reconciliation work being carried out by Anglican churches in the region, bishops from the Anglican Church of Korea took part in services in Hiroshima and Nagasaki organised by the Anglican Communion in Japan — the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK).

The bishops of the NSKK said in a joint statement that they recognised that the "pain and suffering brought by . . . this war have not yet healed, even after 70 years. We especially bear in mind that our country has not been able to make reconciliation and peace with the countries we invaded."

The Primate of Korea, the Most Revd Paul Keun Sang Kim, said that the "fruitful co-operation" between the provinces of Korea and Japan was the result of God’s grace.

A delegation from the World Council of Churches, including the Primate of Japan, the Most Revd Nathaniel Uematsu, and Bishop Samuel Azariah from the Church of Pakistan, marked the anniversary with a peace pilgrimage in Japan.

As part of the pilgrimage, an Anglican-Roman Catholic Peace Memorial Service was held on the eve of the anniversary at the Catholic Peace Memorial Cathedral in Hiroshima.

In a sermon, Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, from the US-based United Methodist Church, said: "The church leaders on the WCC pilgrimage are from seven countries that say they are in favour of a world without nuclear weapons. Yet, year after year, decade after decade, our seven governments stand ready to use nuclear weapons.

"Seventy years after the destruction here, a total of 40 governments still rely on nuclear weapons. We are here to affirm the ever-larger majorities of the United Nations General Assembly who reject that policy today, declaring that ‘It is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances.’"

The theme was repeated in a joint statement by religious leaders that was read out at a multifaith service organised by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in London.

"Nuclear weapons are by their nature indiscriminate in their effect. Any use of nuclear weapons would have devastating humanitarian consequences, be incompatible with international humanitarian law, and violate the principle of dignity for every human being that is common to each of our faith traditions," they said.

In Rome on Sunday, Pope Francis spoke of the "horror and revulsion" that the bombings still arouse after 70 years.

In his Angelus address, the Pope said: "This has become the symbol of mankind’s enormous destructive power when it makes a distorted use of scientific and technical progress, and serves as a lasting warning to humanity so that it rejects for ever war, and bans nuclear weapons and all arms of mass destruction."


VJ - 70 yeas on - Leader comment

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