Breakdown in nuclear talks between U.S. and North Korea disappoints A-bomb survivors

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

The second summit between the United States and North Korea held in Hanoi, Vietnam has failed to reach an agreement on the denuclearization of North Korea. In response to this news, A-bomb survivors in Hiroshima expressed disappointment on February 28. At the same time, others voiced the need for both sides to continue this dialogue.

Toshiyuki Mimaki, 76, the vice chair of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Hiroshima Hidankyo, chaired by Sunao Tsuboi), said it was regrettable that no concrete progress had been made, saying that people around the world had hoped that there would be movement toward denuclearization. Taking into account that the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) is scheduled for the spring of 2020, Mr. Mimaki also expressed concern that the negotiations for the denuclearization of North Korea would remain at an impasse and he hopes that this will not have an adverse effect on the Review Conference.

At the post-summit news conference, U.S. President Donald Trump indicated that he is willing to continue these talks with North Korea, despite the fact that the United States and North Korea could not agree on the terms of denuclearizing and lifting economic sanctions. Kunihiko Sakuma, 74, the chair of the other Hiroshima Hidankyo, said that being able to sustain the talks is important amid rising tensions between nuclear-armed nations — the United States and Russia as well as India and Pakistan — and that the survivors would like these nations to persist in their efforts to maintain dialogue.

Kim Jin Ho, 73, the executive director of the Council of Atom-bombed Koreans in Hiroshima, said that he did not expect the problem to be resolved after one or two meetings between the two leaders, adding that the recognition of their differences was itself a step forward.

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 both nations are viewing nuclear arms as simply a bargaining tool and she stressed that she wants nuclear weapons to be abolished right away because she knows how horrific these weapons are.

Kazumi Mizumoto, 61, the vice president of the Hiroshima Peace Institute at Hiroshima City University, said that, this time, both nations seem to have presented their maximum demands and he hopes they will continue their dialogue to create a more trusting relationship and find common ground for advancing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia as a whole. He said he recognizes, though, that both the United States and North Korea must also deal with domestic political conditions that make it more challenging for them to come to a compromise.

(Originally published on March 1, 2019)