The Associated Press

TOKYO -- The United States sent a representative Tuesday for the first time to the annual memorial service for victims of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, one of two nuclear attacks that led Japan to surrender in World War II.

The U.S. bombing of Nagasaki 66 years ago killed some 80,000 people. Three days earlier, the United States had dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing up to 140,000.

Charge d'Affaires James P. Zumwalt, the first American representative to attend the Nagasaki memorial service, said in a statement that President Barack Obama hoped to work with Japan toward his goal "of realizing a world without nuclear weapons" -- a commitment Japan has made repeatedly since the war.

Last year, Obama sent Ambassador John Roos to the 65th anniversary of the bombing in Hiroshima, and Roos visited Nagasaki twice last year on other dates, according to the U.S. Embassy in Japan.

Zumwalt joined Nagasaki's residents and mayor yesterday in observing a moment of silence at 11:02 a.m. -- the moment the bomb dropped on the city on Aug. 9, 1945, in the closing days of the war. Six days later, Japan surrendered.

As in past years, a bell rang out in a prayer for peace, and bomb victims who were children during the attack sang a song called "Never Again."

The Japanese government has decided, meanwhile, to lift evacuation advisories in some areas more than 12 miles from the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, opening the way for tens of thousands of people to return home, officials said.

The advisories warned residents to be prepared to leave conditions worsened at the plant. Although it was only a warning, many people fearfully fled their homes or because mandatory evacuation orders in nearby areas deprived them of city services.

Officials said the lifting will allow about 25,000 people covered by the advisories to return home in about a month.

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