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Hiroshima's A-bomb Dome marks 25th anniversary since registration as World Heritage site

A participant offers water to the Atomic Bomb Dome monument in Hiroshima's Naka Ward on Dec. 7, 2021 during a memorial gathering to mark the 25th anniversary since the structure was registered as a World Heritage site. (Mainichi/Kenji Ikai)

HIROSHIMA -- Hiroshima's Atomic Bomb Dome marked the 25th anniversary on Dec. 7 since it was registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, as survivors offered flowers to the "silent witness" to the atomic bombing by the U.S. military.

    As a symbol of peace, the structure's role to convey the horror of nuclear weapons is increasing while the number of A-bomb survivors, or hibakusha, is decreasing year by year.

    On the night of Dec. 7, the Hiroshima Peace Liaison Conference for Nuclear Abolition consisting of 12 organizations including a group of hibakusha and the Hiroshima chapter of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation held a memorial gathering in front of the dome in the city's Naka Ward. Participants observed a moment of silence for the victims and offered flowers. Toshiyuki Mimaki, 79, chairperson of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations, commented, "The dome, as a storyteller of the Aug. 6, 1945 event, will keep telling the horror and cruelty of nuclear weapons forever even after we die and there are no more hibakusha."

    The Atomic Bomb Dome, at the time the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, was destroyed in the heat and blast caused by the bomb. Copper plates covering the dome roof also melted, but the frames and part of the exterior walls remained. Exposed steel frames and bricks have been telling people the horror of a nuclear attack. The relic was registered as a World Heritage site at the same time as Itsukushima Shrine in the city of Hatsukaichi in the same prefecture in December 1996 -- 51 years after World War II.

    (Japanese original by Isamu Gari and Kazuki Ikeda, Hiroshima Bureau)

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