HIROSHIMA, Japan (CBS) -- Japan marked 68 years since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Tuesday (August 6), as the government came under criticism for its push to promote its nuclear technology outside the nation.
Hundreds arrived early in the morning before sunrise to offer prayers and incense to the thousands who perished in the attack and the many more who died of radiation exposure in the closing days of World War Two.
Later in the day, at the time the bombed was dropped around 08:15 am (2315 GMT) by the U.S. B-29 warplane Enola Gay, the city observed a minute of silence while tolling the peace bell.
Speaking at the ceremony following that, Japanese Prime minister Shinzo Abe read out a prepared speech where he said Japan had a duty to press for a world without nuclear weapons.
"We, Japanese, are history's sole victims of the nuclear attack and we have the certain responsibility to bring about a world without nuclear weapons and it is our duty to continue to remind the world of their (nuclear weapons) inhumanity," Abe said.
His words, often repeated by many previous prime ministers at this ceremony, were criticized by the Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui.
"In all this, while the talks Japan is having with India on acquiring nuclear technology and equipment may be good for the economic relationship between the two nations, it can only be an obstacle to ending nuclear proliferation," said Matsui, who's father is a "hibakusha" or survivor of the a-bomb who suffered the consequences of the nuclear fallout.
This was a direct criticism of Japan's push to sell its nuclear technology overseas despite local opposition in the wake of the meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s (Tepco's) Fukushima nuclear plant after an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.
The criticism also comes at a time when the ability of Tepco to contain the aftermath of the nuclear crisis is under much doubt. This follows admissions by the power utility that highly radio-active groundwater was rising beyond their control and could possibly break past barriers very soon.
The bomb dropped on the city, nicknamed "Little Boy", releasing a mix of shock waves, heat rays and radiation. The death toll by the end of 1945 was estimated at about 140,000 out of the total 350,000 that lived there at the time.
Three days after the attack on Hiroshima, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on the southern city of Nagasaki. Japan surrendered six days later.