Prayers for peace are reverberating across Hiroshima, as the Japanese city marks 68 years since the atomic bombing at the end of World War Two.
About 50,000 people attended a ceremony on Tuesday morning at the Peace Memorial Park, close to the epicenter of the bombing on August 6th, 1945.
A list of more than 286,000 a-bomb victims was presented to a cenotaph. Newly added are the names of nearly 6,000 people who died or were confirmed dead during the past year.
At 8:15 AM, the exact time the bomb was dropped, the peace bell tolled and the participants observed a moment of silent prayer.
In his peace declaration, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui called the atomic bomb the ultimate inhumane weapon and an absolute evil.
He urged the Japanese government to strengthen ties with other governments pursuing the abolition of nuclear weapons.
In a message to policymakers around the world, the mayor asked: "How long will you remain imprisoned by distrust and animosity? Do you honestly believe you can continue to maintain national security by rattling your sabers?"
Matsui invited world leaders to come to Hiroshima, encounter the spirit of the "Hibakusha" bombing survivors, and make decisions to shift to a system of security based on trust and dialogue.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his speech that as citizens of the only nation in the world to have suffered an atomic bombing, the Japanese people have a responsibility to realize a world free of nuclear weapons.
Abe said they must keep on telling generations to come that nuclear weapons bring about inhumane consequences.
Among those attending the ceremony was Mayor Tamotsu Baba of Namie Town in Fukushima Prefecture. The March 2011 nuclear accident has forced the town's entire population of more than 20,000 to evacuate.
US film director Oliver Stone attended the ceremony for the first time. Stone has directed a documentary, questioning the legitimacy of the US atomic bombings in Japan.
In America we like to think of the bombings as a classic case of "It is the greatest good to the greatest number of people which is the measure of right and wrong."
If the shoe was on the other foot I doubt we would feel the same. The world has never been the same since they were dropped.
It always makes me think of this as well
There is a scene, in the new Wolverine movie, that shows just before the bomb was dropped. After is goes off everything goes in slow motion and you can hear people screaming in the explosion, hearing all those screams was intense.