Bells tolled as ageing survivors, relatives, government officials and foreign delegates observed a moment of silence at the time of detonation.
The bombing of Nagasaki came three days after the first-ever atomic blast at Hiroshima, which is believed to have claimed around 1,40,000 lives. Hiroshima held its own remembrance ceremonies earlier this week.
An envoy from India, a nuclear power which is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, was attending the ceremony for the first time, a Nagasaki official said. The ceremony is held near the spot where the US military dropped its plutonium bomb – ‘Fat Man,’ on August 9, 1945, in the final chapter of the war.
Historians have long been at odds over whether the twin attacks brought a speedier end to the war by forcing Japan's surrender and preventing many more casualties in a land invasion planned for later in the year.
Many atomic bomb survivors, known as ‘Hibakusha’ in Japanese, oppose both military and civilian use of nuclear power, pointing to the tens of thousands who were killed instantly in the blasts and the many more who later died from radiation sickness and cancer.
Anti-nuclear sentiment has run high in Japan following the 2011 atomic disaster at Fukushima, with most of the country's reactors being switched off.


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