A-bomb survivors welcome idea of U.S. President’s visit to Nagasaki, hope pursuit of nuclear-free world will be declared

by Kana Kobayashi, Staff Writer

It has been learned that the governments of Japan and the United States are considering the idea of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Nagasaki when he comes to Japan to attend the summit meeting of the group of seven industrialized nations (G7) to be held in Hiroshima in May 2023. If realized, it will be the first visit to Nagasaki by a president of the U.S., and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who has been calling for a “world without nuclear weapons,” is likely to accompany him.

On December 20, A-bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki welcomed the idea and called for concrete action toward nuclear disarmament.

Toshiyuki Mimaki, 80, chair of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Hiroshima Hidankyo), expressed his hope for Mr. Biden’s visit to Nagasaki, saying, “It is good that he will visit Nagasaki, which has different condition of the atomic bomb from that of Hiroshima. I hope he will listen to A-bomb survivors’ accounts and send out a message to the world that meets the expectations of the A-bomb survivors and the A-bombed city.”

When Barack Obama visited Hiroshima as the first sitting U.S. president in 2016, he met with A-bomb survivors in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and delivered a speech. If Mr. Biden attends the Hiroshima summit and visits Nagasaki, he will be the first U.S. President to visit the two A-bombed cities during his presidency. Kunihiko Sakuma, 78, chair of the other Hiroshima Hidankyo, said, “I hope he will realize the inhumanity of nuclear weapons and the sufferings of A-bomb survivors.”

Masao Tomonaga, 79, head of a group of A-bomb survivor’s certificate holders in Nagasaki Prefecture, responded favorably to the news of the planned visit by the U.S. president. In view of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he said, “I hope the president will declare that he would pursue a world without nuclear weapons. As the president of the country that carries grave responsibility for using nuclear weapons, his words are very significant.”

“A policy shift after the visit is important,” said Keiko Nakamura, associate professor of nuclear disarmament at the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (RECNA) at Nagasaki University, “There are many things that President Biden can do, as he will stay in office for some time. The Japanese and U.S. governments are required to take action to advance nuclear disarmament instead of just condemning Russia.”

(Originally published on December 21, 2022)