France to join Japan atom bomb ceremonies

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France will join Japan's commemoration of the World War II atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the first time this year, the French foreign ministry said on Monday.

France will send its Japan embassy's charge d'affaires to take part in the annual remembrance ceremonies in the two cities on August 6 and 9, a deputy spokesman for the ministry, Christine Fages, told reporters.

"It is the first time France has participated in this event," she added.

As well as remembering the dead, France aims "to reaffirm its will to achieve a safer international environment allowing all aims of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to be fulfilled, notably in terms of nuclear disarmament."

On August 6, 1945, a US B-29 bomber dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, incinerating the city and killing 140,000 people in the first nuclear attack in history.

Three days later, the United States dropped a second bomb on the port city of Nagasaki. About 150,000 of the city's 240,000 residents died instantly or succumbed to their wounds or sickness.

The bombings led to Japan's formal surrender in the war on September 2, 1945.

© 2010 AFP

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