The Japanese city of Nagasaki marked 71 years since it was partially destroyed by a US atomic bomb during World War II on 9 August. A ceremony was held at the Peace Memorial Park, where Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe underscored the nation's nuclear non-proliferation stance.

"As the only country to be bombed by atomic bombs during wartime, I will strongly advocate the importance of maintaining and strengthening the stance of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, while maintaining the three non-nuclear principles," Abe said to the hundreds of people who attended the annual peace memorial. During the ceremony, city mayor, Tomihisa Taue called for other national leaders to follow in the footsteps of US President Barack Obama, who visited Hiroshima earlier this year. Obama became the first incumbent US president to visit Hiroshima since the attack, and he urged nuclear powers, including his own, to have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without nuclear weapons.

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A mushroom cloud billows over Nagasaki after the atomic bomb was dropped on the city on 9 August 1945Reuters
nagasaki atomic bomb 1945
29 March 1946: Bockscar, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Nakasaki, is seen in RoswellAFP
nagasaki atomic bomb 1945
Devastation is seen in the city of Nagasaki after the atomic bomb was droppedUS National Archives

On 9 August 1945 the US military dropped an atomic bomb, nicknamed Fat Man, from a plane called Bockscar. The bomb weighed 4,500kg- 100kg larger than 'Little Boy' which was dropped on Hiroshima three days before. It killed between 39,000-80,000 people. Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945, bringing the Second World War to an end.

Nagasaki Hiroshima anniversaries
Doves fly around the monument during a memorial ceremony to mark the atomic bombing anniversary at the Peace Memorial Park in NagasakiJiji Press/ AFP
Nagasaki Hiroshima anniversaries
Christians pray for victims during a mass to mark the anniversary of the atomic bombing, at the Urakami Cathedral in NagasakiJiji Press/ AFP
Nagasaki Hiroshima anniversaries
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe carries a wreath of flowers to the altar during a memorial ceremony to mark the anniversary of the atomic bombing, at the Peace Memorial Park in NagasakiJiji Press/ AFP
Nagasaki Hiroshima anniversaries
People offer silent prayers for victims during a memorial ceremony to mark the anniversary of the atomic bombing, at the Peace Memorial Park in NagasakiJiji Press/ AFP
Nagasaki Hiroshima anniversaries
Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue makes a speech during a memorial ceremony on the atomic bombing anniversary, at the Peace Memorial Park in NagasakiJiji Press/ AFP
Nagasaki Hiroshima anniversaries
People pray for atomic bombing victims on the anniversary of the bombing, in front of the monument at the Peace Memorial Park in NagasakiJiji Press/ AFP

On 6 August 2016, a peace bell tolled in Hiroshima at 8:15am local time – the exact same time that the American B-29 Superfortress bomber, Enola Gay, flown by pilot Colonel Paul Tibbets dropped the atomic bomb 'Little Boy' onto the city. About 50,000 participants including survivors and dignitaries held a moment of silence at a memorial ceremony in the western Japanese city. Once again, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged his determination to work toward a world free of nuclear arms.

"We must not have the tragic experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 71 years ago repeated. It is the responsibility of those of us who live in the present to keep on working without stopping, towards that aim," he said.

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The atomic bomb, nicknamed Little Boy, is seen before being loaded into Enola Gay's bomb bayUS National Archives
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6 August 1945: A building stands in ruins after the atomic bomb blast at HiroshimaKeystone/Getty Images

The nuclear attacks on both cities caused utter devastation among civilians. Between 90,000–146,000 people were killed in Hiroshima and 39,000-80,000 in Nagasaki. Roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred instantly.

Nagasaki Hiroshima anniversaries
A woman prays at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial ahead of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in HiroshimaYuya Shino/ Getty Images
Nagasaki Hiroshima anniversaries
People pray in front of the cenotaph for the victims of the atomic bomb after the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in HiroshimaYuya Shino/ Getty Images
Nagasaki Hiroshima anniversaries
A man prays at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial ahead of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in HiroshimaYuya Shino/ Getty Images
Nagasaki Hiroshima anniversaries
People pray at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial ahead of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in HiroshimaYuya Shino/ Getty Images
Nagasaki Hiroshima anniversaries
A girl prays at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial ahead of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in HiroshimaYuya Shino/ Getty Images
Nagasaki Hiroshima anniversaries
A woman prays at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial ahead of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in HiroshimaYuya Shino/ Getty Images
Nagasaki Hiroshima anniversaries
The Atomic Bomb Dome is reflected in the river ahead of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in HiroshimaYuya Shino/ Getty Images
Nagasaki Hiroshima anniversaries
People put fire on their incense sticks as they pray at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial ahead of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in HiroshimaYuya Shino/ Getty Images
Nagasaki Hiroshima anniversaries
A boy floats a candle lit paper lantern on the river during 71st anniversary activities, commemorating the atomic bombing of Hiroshima at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in HiroshimaYuya Shino/ Getty Images