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IN HIROSHIMA, PRAYERS FOR PEACE

Tens of thousands of people gather to mark the atomic bombing's 62nd anniversary.

About 40,000 people attended a ceremony Monday in Hiroshima, Japan, to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city. The crowd was the largest ever and included families of victims, ambassadors from 42 countries and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"Japan has been taking the path toward global peace for 62 years since World War II. The tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki should never be repeated in any place on Earth," Abe said at a speech Monday at Hiroshima Peace Park, near the bomb's epicenter.

At 8:15 a.m. - the time Hiroshima was bombed 62 years ago - Yukiko Kuroda, representing the bereaved families, and 12-year-old Ryosuke Soda, symbolizing the next generation, rang a bell for peace. All participants fell silent for a minute of prayer.

During the past year, 5,221 atomic bomb survivors have died or have been confirmed as dead, and their names were added to a monument for the victims. There are now 91 books remembering victims, containing 253,008 names.

As of the end of March, there were 251,834 living atomic bomb survivors across the nation, with an average age of 74.6.

As part of the ceremonies, Abe apologized on Sunday for remarks made by his former defense minister that suggested the bombing may have been justified. In June, Fumio Kyuma said, "I understand that the bombings ended the war, and I think that it couldn't be helped." That statement jibes with the U.S. opinion that the bombings ended the war sooner, and therefore saved lives, but runs contrary to Japanese sentiment that they were an unjustified slaughter of civilians.

Information from the Associated Press and Yomiuri Shimbun was used in this report.

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