Anger in Hiroshima over nuclear test by North Korea

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

In the wake of the third nuclear test conducted by North Korea on February 12, Hiroshima boiled with anger. “Why do they turn a deaf ear to the voices of the hibakusha?” Hiroshima citizens wondered. North Korea repeated this reckless act amid calls for restraint from the international community, spurning the desire for nuclear abolition. With conditions on the Korean Peninsula growing tense, the concern felt in Hiroshima has deepened.

“Whatever the reason may be, nuclear tests are never acceptable,” said Sunao Tsuboi, 87, chairman of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations. He added, “How long will North Korea keep turning its back on international talks?”

It appears that North Korea conducted the latest nuclear test with an eye toward developing smaller nuclear bombs. Last December, it successfully launched what is effectively a long-range ballistic missile, which means North Korean missiles could now come close to striking the U.S. mainland.

Yukio Yoshioka, 83, vice chairman of the other faction of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations, chaired by Kazushi Kaneko, expressed concern, saying, “This runs counter to the global movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons and will have a significant influence on other nations that are seeking to become nuclear powers.”

“Nuclear tests should not be performed. This saddens me,” said Lee Sil Gun, 83, chair of the Council of Atom-bombed Koreans in Hiroshima, which has been lending support to A-bomb survivors living in North Korea for many years, since they are not covered by the Japanese government’s relief program. Mr. Lee added, “North Korea’s nuclear development efforts are also a sign that the country is frightened by the threat posed by the United States. The United States, Japan, and South Korea should take action to allay that fear.”

(Originally published on February 13, 2013)