Japan marks the 72nd anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima

Japan on Sunday marked 72 years since the world’s first nuclear attack, on Hiroshima, with the nation’s traditional contradictions over atomic weapons again coming into focus.

The anniversary came after Japan sided last month with nuclear powers Britain, France and the U.S. to dismiss a U.N. treaty banning atomic weapons, which was rejected by critics for ignoring the reality of security threats such as North Korea.

Japan is the only country to have suffered atomic attacks, in 1945.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaking at the annual ceremony at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park near the ground zero, said Japan hoped to push for a world without nuclear weapons in a way that all countries can agree.

“For us to truly pursue a world without nuclear weapons, we need participation from both nuclear-weapons and non-nuclear-weapons states,” Abe said in his speech at the annual ceremony.

“Our country is committed to leading the international community by encouraging both sides” to make progress toward abolishing nuclear arms, Abe added without directly referring to the U.N. treaty. (AFP)

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People pray for atomic bomb victims

People pray for atomic bomb victims in front of the cenotaph for the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing, at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan, August 6, 2017, on the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city. (Photo: Kyodo via Reuters)

Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony

People attend the Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony held to console the souls of the A-Bomb victims after the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on the occasion of the 72nd anniversary of Hiroshima atomic bombing on Aug. 6, 2017 in Hiroshima, Japan. (Photo: David Mareuil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony

People attend the Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony held to console the souls of the A-Bomb victims after the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on the occasion of the 72nd anniversary of Hiroshima atomic bombing on Aug. 6, 2017 in Hiroshima, Japan. (Photo: David Mareuil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Children pray after releasing paper lanterns

Children pray after releasing paper lanterns on the Motoyasu river facing the Atomic Bomb Dome in remembrance of atomic bomb victims on the 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, western Japan, Aug. 6, 2017, in this photo taken by Kyodo. (Photo: Kyodo via Reuters)

Kazumi Matsui hands over the name list

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, right, hands over the name list of newly added people who died of the world’s first atomic bombing over the past year during a ceremony to mark the 72nd anniversary of the 1945 bombing that killed 140,000 people, at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017. “This hell is not a thing of the past,” Matsui said in his peace declaration at Sunday’s ceremony. “As long as nuclear weapons exist and policymakers threaten their use, their horror could leap into our present at any moment. You could find yourself suffering their cruelty.” (Photo: Shohei Miyano/Kyodo News via AP)

A Japanese national flag flies at half-mast

A Japanese national flag flies at half-mast during the memorial ceremony for victims of the Aug. 6,1945 atomic bombing at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan, Aug. 6, 2017. (Photo: Kimimasa Mayama/EPA/REX/Shutterstock)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lays a wreath

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on Aug. 6, 2017 in Hiroshima, Japan. (Photo: David Mareuil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Visitors lays flowers and pray

Visitors lays flowers and pray for the atomic bomb victims in front of the cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017. (Photo: Richard Atrero de Guzman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

People attend the ceremony

People attend a ceremony to mark the 72nd anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing that killed 140,000 people at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017. Hiroshima’s appeal of “never again” on the 72nd anniversary has acquired renewed urgency as North Korea moves ever closer to acquiring nuclear weapons. (Photo: Ryosuke Ozawa/Kyodo News via AP)

Visitors lays flowers and pray

Visitors lays flowers and pray for the atomic bomb victims in front of the cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017. (Photo: Richard Atrero de Guzman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

People write peace messages

People write down peace messages at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on Aug. 6, 2017 in Hiroshima, Japan. (Photo: David Mareuil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Visitors lays flowers and pray

Visitors lays flowers and pray for the atomic bomb victims in front of the cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017. (Photo: Richard Atrero de Guzman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

People burn incense and offer prayers

People burn incense and offer prayers early morning prior to the 72nd anniversary memorial service for the atomic bomb victims at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 2017. (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Visitors lays flowers and pray for the atomic bomb victims in front of the cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017. (Photo: Richard Atrero de Guzman/NURPhoto) (Photo by Richard Atrero de Guzman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Lanterns are floated to console the victim’s souls

People attend the Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony held to console the souls of the A-Bomb victims after the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on the occasion of the 72nd anniversary of Hiroshima atomic bombing on Aug. 6, 2017 in Hiroshima, Japan. (Photo: David Mareuil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)