ABC7's David Ono explores Hiroshima's rebirth 70 years after atomic bombing

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ABC7 anchor David Ono explores Hiroshima's rebirth 70 years after an atomic bomb destroyed 90 percent of the city and killed 140,000 people.

Japan marked the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Thursday with a solemn ceremony at the city's peace park.

Tens of thousands of people stood for a minute of silence to mark the moment the U.S. bomb, "Little Boy," dropped. A second bomb, "Fat Man," dropped over Nagasaki three days later.

A "black rain" of radioactive particles followed the blinding blast and fireball, and has been linked to higher rates of cancer and other radiation-related diseases among the survivors.

About 600 survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings now live in Southern California, and as the world continues to debate a nuclear deal with Iran, it's important to look at the devastation that nuclear weapons can cause.

The atomic bombs brought an end to World War II. What's lost in that fact is that "Little Boy," dropped from the Enola Gay B-29 bomber, destroyed 90 percent of the city. The city of Hiroshima has since been reborn thanks to, in part, food.

It's remarkable how a hot griddle can provide comfort. In a tiny restaurant in Hiroshima, they serve a dish that originated 68 years ago. Okonomiyaki starts as a crepe and is layered with egg, noodles, vegetables and meats, and you eat it right off the hot griddle. It's become so popular hundreds of restaurants across the city have now copied it. But it was Hisako Kawahara's mother who opened the original restaurant in 1947. It's the only dish her mother served but she poured all her love into it.

"It has a lot of warmth and love that she can spread out to the world," family friend Kyoko Monden said.

That love is was the city needed. Seventy years ago, Hiroshima was reduced to ashes. It was the first time mankind had ever used an atomic bomb.

Today, a park and a museum sit at the hypocenter, where the bomb detonated, killing 140,000 people. Most of the victims were civilians and tens of thousands were children. Inside the museum, the clothes and possessions of the kids who did not survive are stored. Most of them were sitting in their classroom.

Harry Ota lives in Los Angeles, but 70 years ago he was one of those schoolchildren.

"Windows and whole frames all come to my face," Ota said.

Even though he was six miles from where the bomb hit, all the windows in his schoolhouse were blasted in, then the mushroom cloud blocked out the sun.

"In one second, I couldn't see anything, dark," Ota said.

Closer to the blast, there was nothing left, just miles of debris and ashes. Inside the museum, descriptions of the blast zone. Visitors silently shocked at what they see.

Mr. Kenji Shiga, the director of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, showed Eyewitness News the shocking before and after photos. A thriving, vibrant city filled with homes and businesses and hundreds of thousands of people reduced to nothing in a split second. Only one shattered structure is left standing.

The dome, which has been preserved, was one of the few buildings still standing in the entire blast zone. Today, it serves as a permanent reminder of the horrible devastation this city endured.

To see the city now, you would never know that this is the place that has seen the worst of mankind. As Shiga puts it, Hiroshima wasn't rebuilt, it was reborn.

Today, it's a place where its name can mean something other than epic tragedy. That's not to say they want to forget their past. In fact, it's the opposite. They want to make sure no one forgets.

"Never again" they say, "never again" should a man do this to another man.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Related Topics:
u.s. & worldnuclear weaponsjapan
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