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TOKYO: Israel’s ambassador to Japan has not yet been invited to Nagasaki’s annual peace ceremony, city officials said, who instead sent the embassy a letter calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
The city in southern Japan this week invited dozens of countries and territories to the Aug. 9 event, marking the anniversary of the 1945 U.S. nuclear attack that killed 74,000 people.
But “as far as Israel is concerned, the situation is changing day by day … so we have suspended sending an invitation letter,” Mayor Shiro Suzuki told reporters Monday.
Israel launched a violent military offensive in Gaza nearly eight months ago, following an attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on the country.
Behind the decision were partly concerns that the protests could destroy the memorial to the victims of the atomic bomb, Suzuki said.
“Given the critical humanitarian situation in Gaza and the public opinion of the international community, there are concerns about the risk of unexpected incidents during the ceremony”, which should take place “safely and smoothly”.
“Since the situation in Ukraine has not changed, we will not invite Russia or Belarus either,” Suzuki added.
The October 7 Hamas attack killed 1,194 people in Israel, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli data.
According to data provided by Hamas-run Gaza’s health ministry, more than 36,470 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the war broke out.
The Palestinian envoy was invited to the ceremony in Nagasaki, local officials told AFP on Tuesday. Japanese media said both sides are usually invited.

Nagasaki instead sent a letter to the Israeli embassy in which “we demand an immediate ceasefire,” Suzuki said.
The letter states that if city officials decide in the coming months that there is no problem inviting Israel, “we will issue an invitation quickly,” according to the mayor.
The Israeli embassy had no immediate comment.
The somber memorial at Nagasaki Peace Park has in the past included the ringing of bells, the release of doves and a prayer ceremony for bombing victims.
Hiroshima also holds an annual ceremony in memory of the 140,000 people killed there after the United States dropped the first nuclear bomb on August 6, 1945.
The two attacks brought about the end of World War II, and to this day Japan remains the only country to be hit by atomic weapons in wartime.
Hiroshima invited Israel to this year’s ceremony, but in its letter called for a “ceasefire as soon as possible and a solution through dialogue,” a city official said.
According to local media, Hiroshima never invited a Palestinian representative to the ceremony.

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