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Hibakusha regret lack of empathy from Abe

Tokyo, Aug. 28 (Jiji Press)–Hibakusha, or survivors of the August 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, regretted a lack of empathy from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who announced his decision Friday to step down for health reasons.


They expressed hopes that the next leader of the government will tackle in earnest issues regarding the abolition of nuclear weapons, including ratifying the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.


On Aug. 6, the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, western Japan, members of hibakusha groups met with Abe and strongly requested that the Japanese government sign and ratify the treaty.


But Abe said only, “Japan shares the goal of abolishing nuclear weapons with other countries although we have different approaches,” using almost the same rhetoric as that he employed before.


“If Japan really intends to work on nuclear abolition, the country should ratify the treaty,” said Kunihiko Sakuma, 75, head of the Hiroshima prefectural association of atomic bomb survivors.


Sakuma also expressed his strong anger over the government’s filing of an appeal against a recent court ruling that recognized additional victims of so-called radioactive “black rain” that fell after the nuclear attack on the city.


“I hope that things will turn for the better, Masaaki Takano, 82, leader of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said, demanding that the next administration withdraw the appeal.


Abe “was the person furthest from us as we seek to keep war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution intact and call for the abolition of nuclear weapons,” said Koichi Kawano, 80, leader of a hibakusha group in Nagasaki Prefecture, southwestern Japan.


“I couldn’t understand how the prime minister is thinking about atomic bombs,” said Masao Tomonaga, 77, head of another hibakusha group in the prefecture, who met with Abe on Aug. 9, the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city of Nagasaki.

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