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Nuclear accord with India draws fire from A-bomb survivors, others via Asahi Shimbun

The nuclear agreement reached by Japan and India was greeted with protests from hibakusha survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as evacuees from the Fukushima nuclear accident five years ago.

Kunihiko Sakuma, 72, who heads the Hiroshima prefectural federation of A-bomb sufferers organizations, said, “As a hibakusha, (the Nov. 11 agreement) is simply unbearable.”

Sakuma was incensed that the accord was reached with a country that has not joined the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, yet possesses nuclear weapons.

He suggested that the agreement with India opens the door for reprocessed nuclear fuel to be converted for use in nuclear weapons development.

“The proliferation of nuclear weapons goes against the spirit of the NPT and could lead to the creation of more hibakusha,” Sakuma said.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui issued a statement late Nov. 11 in which he said, “Concerns remain about the conversion for use in nuclear weapons development of nuclear materials, nuclear energy-related technology, materials and equipment.”

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Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue also issued a statement that said, “The signing of the agreement is extremely regrettable for a city that has been hit by a nuclear weapon.”

In other developments, a weekly Friday night protest organized by anti-nuclear groups in front of the prime minister’s office in Tokyo saw a fourfold increase in participants on Nov. 11, according to organizers. Participants held up signs and posters criticizing the nuclear agreement with India.

Fukushima evacuees were also upset by the agreement. After the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, about 85,000 residents are still living as evacuees.

One 76-year-old man who fled to Iwaki in the prefecture from Okuma, the site of the nuclear plant, said, “Not being able to return to our homes, we still cannot forget the chagrin we felt at having trusted Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the central government when they said the plant was ‘absolutely safe.’ I do not want people living abroad to experience the same thing.”

The man added that he was unable to comprehend “how they can think about exporting dangerous nuclear plants when there is no definite plan about decommissioning the reactors or when we can return home.”

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