A-bomb survivors living overseas seek correction of prime minister’s statement made in Hiroshima

by Jumpei Fujimura, Staff Writer

Protesting the address made by Japan’s prime minister during the Peace Memorial Ceremony, held on August 6 in Hiroshima, six groups of A-bomb survivors living in North America, South Korea, and Brazil filed a complaint on October 31. They have demanded a correction to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement: “The people of Japan are the only ones who have experienced the horror of nuclear devastation in war.” In response to this complaint, an official at the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare said that the government is taking this criticism seriously and will make use of this insight, avoiding such language in the future.

Junko Ichiba, chair of the Association of Citizens for the Support of South Korean Atomic Bomb Victims, and about 10 others visited the Diet building and handed a written request to Takeshi Sakakibara, director of the ministry’s A-bomb Survivor Support Office.

The request states that victims of the atomic bombings included prisoners of war, international students, and people from the Korean Peninsula who were given Japanese citizenship because of Japan’s colonial policy. It also stressed that the prime minister’s speech was at odds with the Japanese government’s relief measures for A-bomb survivors living overseas.

Mr. Sakakibara said that the expression Mr. Abe used was referring to the entire group of people who lived in Japan at the time and shared the experience of the atomic bombings. “It was never intended to negate the fact that non-Japanese people also experienced the atomic bombings. It was a misleading expression,” added Mr. Sakakibara.

(Originally published on November 1, 2013)