Ageing survivors, relatives, government officials and foreign delegates observed a moment of silence at 8:15 am local time (0445 IST Tuesday), the time of the detonation which turned the city into a nuclear inferno.
    
An American B-29 bomber named Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on August 6, 1945, in one of the final chapters of World War II. It killed an estimated 140,000 by December that year. Three days later, the port city of Nagasaki was also bombed.
    
The Allied powers have long argued that the twin attacks brought a quick end to the war by speeding up Japan's surrender, preventing millions more casualties from a land invasion planned for later in the year.
    
Japanese officials later on Tuesday will be unveiling Tokyo's biggest-ever naval ship in peacetime, as the government moves to beef up Japan's self-defence forces, jangling nerves in neighbouring China and South Korea.
    
Tokyo insisted the timing of an annual peace ceremony and the helicopter carrier was coincidental. Among the attendees in Hiroshima last year was Clifton Truman Daniel, grandson of former US president Harry Truman, who authorized the bombings. He was the first Truman relative to attend the annual anniversary in Japan.
    
Many atomic bomb survivors, known as ‘hibakusha’, oppose both military and civil use of nuclear power, pointing to the tens of thousands who were killed instantly in the Hiroshima blast and the many more who later died from radiation sickness and cancers linked to the attack.

 (Agencies)

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