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Hiroshima eyes smaller-scale A-bomb ceremony due to coronavirus

This Aug. 6, 2019 photo shows the Atomic Bomb Dome, front, in Hiroshima with a ceremony marking the 74th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of the western Japan city being held at the Peace Memorial Park. (Kyodo)

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) -- Hiroshima may reduce the scale of its memorial ceremony in August of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing unless the coronavirus epidemic ends by that time, Mayor Kazumi Matsui said Thursday.

    The city is considering taking steps such as limiting the number of people who can enter the Peace Memorial Park near Ground Zero where the annual ceremony -- which sees the Japanese prime minister deliver a speech every year in front of 50,000 people -- is held on Aug. 6.

    U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has expressed his intention to attend this year's ceremony.

    "It's important to avoid overcrowding and close contact (among people)," Matsui said at a press conference. "We would like to hold the ceremony while taking sufficient measures to deal with the coronavirus."

    Details of the steps will be released as early as next month following discussions at the municipal government, he said.

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