A-bomb survivors express anger and concern over U.S. attitude toward nuclear disarmament

by Hajime Niiyama and Junji Akechi, Staff Writers

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California announced on May 24 that the United States conducted a subcritical nuclear test in the western state of Nevada in February. The test, in which plutonium was used, involved no nuclear explosion, according to the U.S. nuclear research institution. It has been confirmed that a similar test was conducted in December 2017 under the administration of President Donald Trump. On May 25, A-bomb survivors in Hiroshima and members of anti-nuclear groups expressed their anger and concern. Some said that the Japanese government should protest such actions to the United States during Mr. Trump’s visit to Japan.

“Isn’t it contradictory to have the U.S. demanding that North Korea denuclearize while the U.S. itself is conducting nuclear tests?” said Toshiyuki Mimaki, 77, the vice chair of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Hiroshima Hidankyo, chaired by Sunao Tsuboi). Referring to their international signature drive for realizing a world without nuclear weapons, Mr. Mimaki said, “We still have a long way to go. It is frustrating that the U.S. does not understand its significance.”

Kunihiko Sakuma, 74, the chair of the other Hiroshima Hidankyo, harshly criticized the United States, saying, “It means that they have no intention of eliminating nuclear weapons.” With President Trump now visiting Japan, Mr. Sakuma said, “As the country that experienced the atomic bombings, Japan should tell the U.S. to stop conducting nuclear tests and engage in discussions about peace.”

“The test was a significant move that will lead to the real enhancement of their nuclear weapons,” said Akira Kawasaki, 50, a member of the international steering committee of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a non-governmental organization. During the Preparatory Committee for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, which took place this past April and May, the United States held a negative attitude toward nuclear disarmament. Mr. Kawasaki expressed his concern about next year’s Review Conference, saying, “Their attitude of disregarding the responsibilities of the nuclear weapon states while pursuing the development of their nuclear weapons will undermine confidence in the NPT regime.”

(Originally published on May 26, 2019)