Japan marks 69th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing

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Japan marks 69th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing
US ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, attends a memorial for victims of the 1945 atomic bombing, at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on August 6, 2014. Tens of thousands gathered for peaceful ceremonies in Hiroshima on August 6, marking the 69th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of the city, as anti-nuclear sentiment runs high in Japan. JAPAN OUT AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome (L) at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on August 5, 2014. The Japanese western city will mark the 69th anniversary of the world's first atomic attack on August 6. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
Japanese Prime Minister Shizo Abe (L) walks before the monument after making a speech during a memorial service to pray for the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on August 6, 2014. The Japanese western city marked the 69th anniversary of the world's first atomic attack on August 6. AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
The Atomic Bomb Dome is illuminated in the rainy night sky at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on August 5, 2014. The Japanese western city will mark the 69th anniversary of the world's first atomic attack on August 6. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (front R) takes part in a silent prayer during a memorial ceremony for victims of the 1945 atomic bombing, at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on August 6, 2014. Tens of thousands gathered for peaceful ceremonies in Hiroshima on August 6, marking the 69th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of the city, as anti-nuclear sentiment runs high in Japan. JAPAN OUT AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
The Atomic Bomb Dome is illuminated in the rainy night sky at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on August 5, 2014. The Japanese western city will mark the 69th anniversary of the world's first atomic attack on August 6. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, CENTER, takes a moment of silence for the atomic bomb victims during a ceremonhy at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan, Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014. Japan marked the 69th anniversary Wednesday of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT
US ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy (C), takes part in a silent prayer during a memorial ceremony for victims of the 1945 atomic bombing, at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on August 6, 2014. Tens of thousands gathered for peaceful ceremonies in Hiroshima on August 6, marking the 69th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of the city, as anti-nuclear sentiment runs high in Japan. JAPAN OUT AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
Wearing a plastic rain coat, US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy (C) leaves the venue after attending a memorial service to pray for the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on August 6, 2014. The Japanese western city marked the 69th anniversary of the world's first atomic attack on August 6. AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui (R) offers a wreath of flowers during a memorial for victims of the 1945 atomic bombing, at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on August 6, 2014. Tens of thousands gathered for peaceful ceremonies in Hiroshima on August 6, marking the 69th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of the city, as anti-nuclear sentiment runs high in Japan. JAPAN OUT AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) delivers a speech during a memorial for victims of the 1945 atomic bombing, at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on August 6, 2014. Tens of thousands gathered for peaceful ceremonies in Hiroshima on August 6, marking the 69th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of the city, as anti-nuclear sentiment runs high in Japan. JAPAN OUT AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui delivers a speech during a memorial for victims of the 1945 atomic bombing, at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on August 6, 2014. Tens of thousands gathered for peaceful ceremonies in Hiroshima on August 6, marking the 69th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of the city, as anti-nuclear sentiment runs high in Japan. JAPAN OUT AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (front L) offers a wreath of flowers during a memorial for victims of the 1945 atomic bombing, at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on August 6, 2014. Tens of thousands gathered for peaceful ceremonies in Hiroshima on August 6, marking the 69th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of the city, as anti-nuclear sentiment runs high in Japan. JAPAN OUT AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather in front of the monument (C) at the foot of the Atomic Bomb Dome (background) at the Peace Memorial Park to pray for the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing in Hiroshima on August 6, 2014. The Japanese western city marked the 69th anniversary of the world's first atomic attack on August 6. AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
Wearing a plastic rain coat, US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy (C) leaves the venue after attending a memorial service to pray for the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on August 6, 2014. The Japanese western city marked the 69th anniversary of the world's first atomic attack on August 6. AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather in front of the monument (C) at the foot of the Atomic Bomb Dome (background) at the Peace Memorial Park to pray for the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing in Hiroshima on August 6, 2014. The Japanese western city marked the 69th anniversary of the world's first atomic attack on August 6. AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) makes a speech during a memorial service to pray for the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on August 6, 2014. The Japanese western city marked the 69th anniversary of the world's first atomic attack on August 6. AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
HIROSHIMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 06: A man prays at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on the day of the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 2014 in Hiroshima, Japan. Japan marks the 69th anniversary of the first atomic bomb that was dropped by the United States on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, killing an estimated 70,000 people instantly, with many thousands more dying over the following years from the effects of radiation. Three days later another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, ending World War II. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
HIROSHIMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 06: A man prays at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on the day of the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 2014 in Hiroshima, Japan. Japan marks the 69th anniversary of the first atomic bomb that was dropped by the United States on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, killing an estimated 70,000 people instantly, with many thousands more dying over the following years from the effects of radiation. Three days later another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, ending World War II. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
HIROSHIMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 06: A man prays at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on the day of the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 2014 in Hiroshima, Japan. Japan marks the 69th anniversary of the first atomic bomb that was dropped by the United States on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, killing an estimated 70,000 people instantly, with many thousands more dying over the following years from the effects of radiation. Three days later another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, ending World War II. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
HIROSHIMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 05: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) South Korean dancers perform to commemorate for the South Korean atmoic bomb victim at Peace Memorial Park on August 5, 2014 in Hiroshima, Japan. Japan is to mark the 69th anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bombing tomorrow. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
Buddhist monks chant prayers to Buddha as they beat drums for victims of the 1945 atomic bombing at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on August 5, 2014. The Japanese western city will mark the 69th anniversary of the world's first atomic attack on August 6. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
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TOKYO (AP) - Japan marked the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Wednesday, as Mayor Kazumi Matsui called on U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders to visit the city to see the scars of the atomic bombing first hand.

About 45,000 people stood for a minute of silence at the ceremony in Hiroshima's peace park near the epicenter of the 1945 attack that killed up to 140,000 people. A second bombing, over Nagasaki three days later, killed another 70,000, prompting Japan's surrender in World War II.

Matsui invited world leaders to Hiroshima, referring to a proposal made at a ministerial meeting in April of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative in Hiroshima, calling on them to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"President Obama and all leaders of nuclear-armed nations, please respond to that call by visiting the A-bombed cities as soon as possible to see what happened with your own eyes," Matsui said. "If you do, you will be convinced that nuclear weapons are an absolute evil that must no longer be allowed to exist."

The anniversary comes as Japan is divided over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent Cabinet decision to allow the country's military to defend foreign countries and play greater roles overseas. To achieve the goal, Abe's Cabinet revised its interpretation of the country's war-renouncing constitution, making it even more controversial.

Abe, among dignitaries attending the event, said that as the sole country to have suffered nuclear attacks, Japan has the duty to seek to eliminate nuclear weapons. But he did not mention his push for a more assertive defense posture.

Attendants this year included U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and representatives from 67 other countries, including Britain, France and Russia.

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