Japan marks 72 years since Hiroshima atomic bomb

The anniversary came after Japan sided last month with nuclear powers Britain, France and the US to dismiss a UN treaty banning atomic weapons, which was rejected by critics for ignoring the reality of security threats such as North Korea.

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Japan is the only country to have suffered atomic attacks, in 1945.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaking at the annual ceremony at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park near the ground zero, said Japan hoped to push for a world without nuclear weapons in a way that all countries can agree.

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“For us to truly pursue a world without nuclear weapons, we need participation from both nuclear-weapons and non-nuclear weapons states,” Abe said in his speech at the annual ceremony.

“Our country is committed to leading the international community by encouraging both sides” to make progress toward abolishing nuclear arms, Abe added without directly referring to the UN treaty.

Japanese officials have criticised the UN Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty as deepening a divide between countries with and without nuclear arms. None of the nine countries that possess nuclear weapons took part in the negotiations or vote on the treaty.

Japanese officials routinely argue that they abhor nuclear weapons, but the nation’s defence is firmly set under the US nuclear umbrella.

Japan suffered two nuclear attacks at the end of the World War II by the United States – in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and in Nagasaki three days later.

The bombings claimed the lives of 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 74,000 people in Nagasaki. Some died immediately while others succumbed to injuries or radiation-related illnesses weeks, months and years later.

Japan announced its surrender in World War II on August 15, 1945.

Many in Japan feel the attacks amount to war crimes and atrocities because they targeted civilians and due to the unprecedented destructive nature of the weapons.

But many Americans believe they hastened the end of a bloody conflict, and ultimately saved lives, thus justifying the bombings.

Barack Obama became the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima in May last year, paying moving tribute to victims of the devastating bomb.

People offer prayers for the victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in front of the cenotaph at the Peace Memorial Park.AAP

Future of marriage, senators face scrutiny

Same-sex marriage and the future of dual-citizen senators will dominate the return of federal parliament.

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During the winter break, a small group of Liberal MPs have been advocating for the party to drop support for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage, and instead allow a free vote on a bill in parliament.

However, conservative Liberals and Nationals MPs are urging Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to stand by the plebiscite which was taken to the 2016 election.

One of the rebels, Sydney MP Trent Zimmerman, says they worked hard to offer a plebiscite but the Senate wouldn’t back the plan.

“It’s not a choice between the plebiscite as we promised it and a parliamentary vote; it’s a choice between a parliamentary vote and doing nothing,” he told Sky News on Sunday.

He and backbench colleagues Dean Smith, Tim Wilson, Warren Entsch and Trevor Evans have circulated a draft bill to Liberal MPs, hoping the proposed religious protections will sway them in favour of a parliamentary vote.

Liberal MPs will thrash out their differences at a meeting on Monday afternoon, ahead of a joint party room meeting with the Nationals on Tuesday.

The Senate will open on Tuesday with a statement from President Stephen Parry and the government asking that former minister Matt Canavan be referred to the High Court to test whether he is eligible to sit after he discovered last month his mother registered him as an “Italian resident abroad” a decade ago.

Section 44 of the constitution bans MPs from being dual citizens, but Senator Canavan has initial legal advice his lack of consent could save his job.

The Greens are expected to refer Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam to the court, having resigned their Queensland and WA seats over dual citizenship.

It is also expected One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts will be referred over his British links.

The House of Representatives will debate laws to strengthen requirements for citizenship.

Mr Burke said Immigration Minister Peter Dutton had overreached and badly misread community sentiment, particularly on plans to toughen English language proficiency requirements.

“This change is a real change in how we operate as a nation,” Mr Burke told Sky News, saying migrant communities felt betrayed.

He’s heard many people liken the new proposal to the dictation test notoriously used under the White Australia policy to stop non-whites immigrating to the new nation.

“Of all the countries with English as an official language, the five countries with a predominantly white population are the only countries where you won’t have to sit this test,” he said.

“You can imagine the volcanic reaction that many communities are having to that.”

UN bans key Nth Korea exports over tests

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea that could slash by a third the Asian state’s $US3 billion ($A3.

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8 billion) annual export revenue over its two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July.

The US-drafted resolution bans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood.

It also prohibits countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean labourers working abroad, bans new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures.

“We should not fool ourselves into thinking we have solved the problem. Not even close. The North Korean threat has not left us, it is rapidly growing more dangerous,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the council.

“Further action is required. The United States is taking and will continue to take prudent defensive measures to protect ourselves and our allies,” she said. Washington would continue annual joint military exercises with South Korea, Haley said.

North Korea has accused the United States and South Korea of escalating tensions by conducting military drills.

China and Russia slammed US deployment of the THAAD anti-missile defence system in South Korea. China’s UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi called for a halt to the deployment and for any equipment in place to be dismantled.

Liu also urged North Korea to “cease taking actions that might further escalate tensions.”

US President Donald Trump hailed the vote in a Twitter message on Saturday evening.

“The United Nations Security Council just voted 15-0 to sanction North Korea. China and Russia voted with us. Very big financial impact!” Trump wrote.

Trump “appreciates China’s and Russia’s cooperation in securing passage” of the resolution, the White House said in a later statement.

The US president “will continue to work with allies and partners to increase diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea to ends its threatening and destabilising behaviour,” it said.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said he hoped recent remarks by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “were sincere – that the US is not seeking to dismantle the existing situation or to forcibly unite the peninsula or to militarily intervene in the country.”

While the Security Council has been divided on how to deal with other international crises like Syria, the 15-member body has remained relatively united on North Korea. Still, negotiating new measures typically takes months, not weeks.

North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. The new measures came in response to five nuclear weapons tests and four long-range missile launches.

The United States negotiated with China for a month on the resolution, then expanded negotiations to the full council on Friday.

Washington, frustrated that China has not done more to rein in North Korea, has threatened to exert trade pressure on Beijing and impose sanctions on Chinese firms doing business with Pyongyang.

The new resolution bans North Korean exports of coal. In November, the Security Council capped the North’s coal exports at $US400 million annually. China, its largest buyer, halted imports in February.

Support Indigenous schooling, PM urged

The grandson of land rights champion Galarrwuy Yunupingu says young Aboriginal kids from remote communities are being forced to choose between a decent education and their culture.

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Michael Gadingura Yunupingu grew up in Adelaide without a traditional Yolngu upbringing, but had the schooling many children from remote Arnhem Land communities are denied.

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“We all, Balanda [white people] and Yolngu have to work together to figure out a way in which kids can carry on our culture yet gain as much education as possible,” he told the Garma Festival.

The 19-year-old says he’s seen countless Indigenous youngsters from remote communities dropping out of boarding schools because they can’t handle the transition to city life.

“Kids aren’t getting the opportunities therefore (they) resort to this constant lifestyle of drugs and alcohol,” he said.

He urged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, listening in the crowd, to give the next generation of indigenous leaders the support they deserve to realise their potential.

“These kids are our future. This country’s future,” Mr Yunupingu said.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar outlined the reluctance of many families in sending their children to boarding school, breaking a connection to country and community.

She called for culturally competent school environments, incorporating western and indigenous knowledge, to enable students to flourish.

“(And) there needs to be sufficient opportunities in a child’s own community to encourage them to come back and give back to their community when they finish their studies,” Ms Oscar said.