The Japanese city of Nagasaki has mourned the 61st anniversary of the world's second and last nuclear attack, with its mayor voicing anger that non-proliferation efforts were "collapsing".
Some 4,600 people, ranging from aging survivors to local teenagers, offered a minute of silent prayers under hot sunshine at 11:02 am (0202 GMT), the moment of the blast in 1945.
What is the human race doing? The world's nuclear non-proliferation regime faces the risk of collapsing...
Nagasaki Mayor Iccho Ito
The US nuclear bomb, codenamed "Fat Man" after Winston Churchill, killed more than 70,000 people in Nagasaki, a southern port city known for its early openness to foreign trade and large Christian community.
The bomb was even larger than "Little Boy" which was dropped three days earlier on Hiroshima, killing some 140,000 people. Japan surrendered on August 15, ending World War II.
Nagasaki Mayor Iccho Ito offered an impassioned plea to step up efforts to control nuclear weapons.
"What is the human race doing?" he said in his address. "The world's nuclear non-proliferation regime faces the risk of collapsing."
"Sixty-one years since the bombing, the city of Nagasaki is filled with anger and frustration," Ito said. "The nuclear powers are not making sincere efforts for nuclear arms reduction."
He criticized the United States for reaching a civilian-use nuclear deal with India, which was initially ostracized by Western powers and Japan for declaring itself an atomic power in 1998.
A view of Nagasaki on August 10, 1945, the day after the a US bomber dropped the world's second atomic bomb. The US bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 killed about 140,000 people, almost half the city, either immediately or in the months that followed from radiation injuries or horrific burns. Three days later, an even more powerful nuclear bomb flattened Nagasaki, killing another 70,000 people. (Yosuke Yamahata/Japan Peace Museum/Handout/Reuters)
"In particular, the United States is giving tacit approval to India's nuclear arms development," Ito said.
He also criticized Iran, Israel and Pakistan for their declared or suspected nuclear programs and singled out self-declared nuclear neighbor North Korea.
"North Korea has declared it possesses nuclear arms and is threatening Japan's and the world's peace and security," Ito said.
"I again urge the Japanese government to promote the denuclearization of northeastern Asia," he said.
"I also demand the government provide further support for aging hibakusha at home and abroad," he said, using the Japanese term for atomic bomb survivors.
Communist North Korea set off new alarm bells in the region with its July 5 test-firing of seven ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan (East Sea).
North Korea said it was boosting its defenses and frequently accuses Japan of failing to atone for its brutal occupation of the Korean peninsula which ended in 1945.
More than 20,000 Koreans are believed to have died in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, many of them brought to Japan as slave laborers.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has infuriated neighboring countries by visiting a controversial war shrine. He has indicated he will go again next week on the sensitive anniversary of Japan's surrender.
Koizumi, who steps down next month, has also attended annual ceremonies in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki every year since he took office in 2001.
He attended his last ceremony wearing a black tie with a white flower pinned to his chest.
"We have the responsibility to continue speaking on the experience to the world as the only country attacked with nuclear bombs in the history," he said.
Copyright © 2006 AFP