A-bomb survivors feel uneasy about U.S. continuing to rely on nuclear deterrence and angry about release of U.S. Nuclear Posture Review

by Kana Kobayashi, Fumiyasu Miyano, Staff Writers

On October 27, the U.S. Biden Administration released Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), guidelines for its nuclear strategy. With Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, which has invaded Ukraine, implying his willingness to use nuclear weapons and the global security environment becoming increasingly severe, Mr. Biden said that nuclear deterrence was a top priority for the U.S. In order to deal with threats from China and North Korea, he said the U.S. would strengthen its nuclear umbrella for allies such as Japan and South Korea. Nuclear weapons cannot be suppressed by nuclear weapons. A-bomb survivors and citizens in Hiroshima voiced their anger and disappointment.

Toshiyuki Mimaki, 80, chair of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Hiroshima Hidankyo), expressed exasperation. “I had high hopes for President Biden, but he failed to stick to his initial stance.” He said, “I am concerned that the U.S. continues relying on nuclear deterrence without resisting global trends,” because at one time President Biden was considering a “sole purpose” declaration that the use of nuclear weapons should be limited to preventing or counterattacking nuclear attacks by the enemy.

The NPR includes strengthening the nuclear umbrella of allied nations. Kunihiko Sakuma, 78, chair of the other Hiroshima Hidankyo, also turned his criticism to his own government, saying, “It has become apparent that the Japanese government has failed to fulfill its role of acting as a “bridge” between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states toward a world without nuclear weapons.”

There is a growing concern around the world about the use of nuclear weapons by Russia, which has invaded Ukraine. Miho Tanaka, 28, co-leader of Kakukawa Hiroshima, a civic group composed of young voters in Hiroshima prefecture who are actively learning about nuclear policies, said, becoming increasingly anxious, “There is no sense of urgency in the U.S. that nuclear weapons might be used. They condemn Russia, but they are convinced that nuclear weapons will not be used.”

Tomoko Watanabe, 68, executive director of ANT-Hiroshima, a non-profit organization, based in the city’s Naka Ward, said, “It’s worse than the Cuban Missile Crisis. Isn’t it a situation that can no longer be done with threats?” Referring to the diplomatic efforts of the U.S. and the Soviet Union to avoid a nuclear war on the brink, she warned, “Now is the time they should be rational and calm to prevent the crisis from escalating. Unless the risk of using nuclear weapons is lowered, there will be no tomorrow for humanity.”

(Originally published on October 28, 2022)