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Atomic bomb survivor blasts Japan for skipping UN talks via Nikkei Asian Review

Call for ban on nukes falls on deaf ears as nuclear-armed states boycott

UNITED NATIONS — Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor Setsuko Thurlow condemned the Japanese government for its “inability to fully commit” to a U.N. conference to negotiate a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons and called on the government to align itself with the Japanese people, rather than with military ally the U.S.

“[The Japanese government claims] to be playing a vital role in nuclear disarmament by bringing foreign dignitaries to Hiroshima with the hope that they will learn the reality of nuclear catastrophe,” Thurlow told representatives gathered at the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday for a second day of negotiations. “But these are empty, evasive actions as they continue to take shelter under the United States’ nuclear umbrella.”

Nobushige Takamizawa, Japan’s ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, delivered a statement on behalf of the Japanese government at the opening of the conference on Monday, but announced that “it would be difficult for Japan to participate” in the conference further. Japan was absent from the talks Tuesday.

“This negotiation has not been formulated to pursue nuclear disarmament measures that will actually lead to the elimination of nuclear weapons, in cooperation with the nuclear weapon states,” Takamizawa said in his remarks.

The response to Takamizawa’s statement was cold. “The Japanese government official’s speech deepened hibakusha’s feeling of being continuously betrayed and abandoned by their own country,” Thurlow said, using the Japanese term for survivors of the atomic bomb attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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“At this point you have Donald Trump, who is reviewing if he’s even committed to a world free of nuclear weapons,” Fihn said, in reference to comments that the U.S. president has made, including through a tweet suggesting that the U.S. “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability” — a reversal of previous U.S. commitments to disarmament. All U.S. allies, including Japan, need to evaluate whether they are willing to stand with President Trump on that, Fihn said.

“Being a good friend and a good ally means that sometimes you stand up for what’s right and say when they’re wrong,” she said.

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