A-bomb survivors welcome continuing dialogue between North and South Korea

by Junji Akechi and Kyosuke Mizukawa, Staff Writers

On September 19, the leaders of North Korea and South Korea signed a joint declaration, which said, among other things, that North Korea would dismantle its nuclear facility under certain conditions. In Hiroshima, A-bomb survivors’ groups welcomed this continuing dialogue between the two leaders. But some are still skeptical about North Korea’s true intentions in regard to its denuclearization and have said that North Korea and the United States should start taking more concrete actions.

Kim Jin Ho, 72, the executive director of the Council of Atom-bombed Koreans in Hiroshima, welcomed the continuing dialogue between the leaders of the two Koreas. He said that a relationship of trust was crucial for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The joint declaration said that North Korea would dismantle its nuclear facility in Yongyon, which is in the northwestern part of the country. Referring to this point, Mr. Kim said that North Korea would not unilaterally scrap the facility and that the United States should clarify what should be done and by when.

The joint declaration contained no mention of what should be done with the nuclear weapons that are currently held by North Korea or when the process of denuclearization should be completed. Park Namjoo, 86, the chair of the “Committee Seeking Measures for the Korean A-bomb Victims of the Hiroshima Headquarters of the Korean Residents Union in Japan” (MINDAN), said that the leaders should have discussed the issue of North Korea’s nuclear arms during the summit. He also said, “Nuclear weapons are capable of wiping out humankind. North Korea should show its intention to denuclearize not by words but by actions.”

Toshiyuki Mimaki, 76, vice chair of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Hiroshima Hidankyo, chaired by Sunao Tsuboi), expressed his hope that South Korea would continue to serve as the go-between in the negotiations for denuclearization between North Korea and the United States.

Kunihiko Sakuma, 73, chair of the other Hiroshima Hidankyo, said, “There must be diplomatic bargaining in negotiations with the U.S., but the joint declaration is a foothold for future progress. North-South and North-U.S. summits must continue and good results should continuously be produced no matter how small they are.”

Kazumi Mizumoto, the vice president of the Hiroshima Peace Institute at Hiroshima City University, believes that the declaration’s reference to the dismantling of the nuclear facility shows that North Korea hopes to continue engaging in dialogue with the United States. He said, “For progress in denuclearization, the verification of nuclear disposal should be established. At the same time, negotiations must be conducted to bring the Korean War to a peaceful end. The Japanese government should help promote such discussions.”

(Originally published on September 20, 2018)