TOKYO — Japan mourned Tuesday for the 105,400 people killed in a single night 70 years ago, when U.S. B-29 bombers obliterated much of Tokyo in the deadliest conventional bomb attack ever.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bowed in a somber ceremony held in a downtown temple that was built to commemorate deaths from a 1923 earthquake, but is also used as a memorial for the victims of World War II bombings.
“With the lessons of the atrocities of war etched deeply in our hearts, we must humbly face the past and do our utmost to contribute to world peace,” said Abe, surrounded by white floral wreaths and chrysanthemums, as a group of dignitaries, survivors and other residents looked on.
The March 10, 1945, attack on Tokyo killed more people than the Aug. 9 atomic bombing of Nagasaki. The death toll was on par with the Aug. 6 atomic attack on Hiroshima.
But the firebombing and similar ones that followed in more than 60 other Japanese cities have received little attention, eclipsed by the atomic bombings and Japan’s postwar rush to rebuild. The only formal public monument for the Tokyo victims is a modest floral memorial near the temple where Tuesday’s ceremony was held.