On the 6th and 9th August each year we remember the first use of nuclear weapons in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1945.
The bomb dropped on Hiroshima on the 6th August killed an estimated 120,000 people within the first four days of the bombing and reduced 5 square miles of the city to ashes. Many people were vaporised instantly by the explosion. In Nagasaki, three days later, 2 square miles of the city were devastated and an estimated 74,000 people killed. Those who survived the bombings faced the terrible side effects of radiation.
Visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2019, Pope Francis described the bombings as a ‘true catechis of cruelty’. He said that the ‘abyss of pain’ suffered by the cities are a reminder of boundaries that must never be crossed and he condemned as immoral not just the use of nuclear weapons but their very possession.
‘”Protect all life” was the motto of my visit to Japan, a nation which bears the mark of the wounds of the atomic bombing and is an example of the fundamental right to life and to peace for the entire world. In Nagasaki and Hiroshima I paused in prayer; I met some survivors and relatives of victims, and I renewed my firm condemnation of nuclear weapons and the hypocrisy of talking of peace while building and selling weaponry.’
Pope Francis General Audience 27th November 2019
Yet even as we remember these bombings, the USA, UK, Russia, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea all have nuclear weapons with even more power than those used in 1945. Despite five of them agreeing to nuclear disarmament in the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty , they refuse to give them up.
Join us as we campaign to rid the UK and the world of these weapons which threaten to destroy us and our planet and which can never bring true peace.
- The Light and the Terror. A poem by Pax Christi member, Kate Holmstrom
- Readings from survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
- Extracts from a speech by Father George Zabelka the Catholic chaplain with the US Air Force who blessed the bombers and later repented of his action here
- Resources for young people on nuclear weapons are available here
- Our leaflet ‘Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki’ which you can download here