Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Friday welcomed the “new momentum” towards a world without nuclear weapons under a call by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Addressing the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, on the 65th anniversary of U.S. nuclear attack on the Japanese city, Mr. Kan expressed “heartfelt welcome to all participants” who, he noted, included United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Ambassador to Japan John V. Roos.

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said Friday's visit to Hiroshima by Mr. Roos was “the first by an American Ambassador” for the annual August 6 event. In a press release, the embassy quoted him as follows: “For the sake of future generations, we must continue to work together to realise a world without nuclear weapons.”

The embassy said Mr. Roos attended “to express respect for all the victims of World War II”.

This was interpreted by some Japanese observers as a non-specific recognition of the victims of the American nuclear strike 65 years ago. It was also reported from Hiroshima that Mr. Roos did not speak on the issue during Friday's ceremony.

Mr. Ban, who on Thursday visited Nagasaki, which was also devastated in a U.S. nuclear strike in the Second World War, hailed “the conviction that we must never allow such devastation to be inflicted on any population anywhere ever again”.

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