Hibakusha, abductees’ kin, biz lobbies decry Pyongyang nuke test
HIROSHIMA/NAGASAKI – Atomic bomb survivors and anti-nuclear campaigners on Monday held a sit-in at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park to protest North Korea’s sixth nuclear test the previous day.
About 90 protesters sat in front of the cenotaph for victims of the 1945 atomic bombing and raised a banner that read: “We strongly condemn the nuclear test.”
An organizer called the detonation “an unforgivable action which tramples on Hiroshima’s wishes for the total abolition of nuclear weapons.”
A similar protest was staged in September last year after North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test.
On Sunday, voices of condemnation and concern were voiced by A-bomb survivors, along with Japanese business leaders and relatives of Japanese abducted long ago by North Korean agents.
Shoso Kawamoto, 83, who lost six family members in the attack, expressed hope that North Korea and other nuclear-armed countries will recognize the dangers of the weapons and rethink their stance so the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will not be repeated.
He also criticized the United States for prioritizing sanctions over dialogue in dealing with Pyongyang — a policy that he thinks led to North Korea’s latest test on Sunday.
In Nagasaki, Mayor Tomihisa Taue condemned the detonation, saying in a statement that it was a “reckless act that increases the risk of the use of nuclear weapons.”
“The residents of this atomic-bombed city absolutely cannot tolerate such a foolish act,” he added.
The government officially lists 17 Japanese as abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s but suspects Pyongyang was involved in several more disappearances. The issue remains an obstacle to normalizing diplomatic ties with North Korea.
A senior official at a business lobby described the nuclear test as an “unforgivably reckless act.”
“If the situation develops into an armed conflict, its impact on the economy can’t be avoided, and such a risk is increasing,” the official said.
In the meantime, Korean residents in Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo district, known as Koreatown, appeared confused about the repercussions of the latest test.
“I don’t know what Mr. Kim (Jong Un) is thinking,” said a woman in her 60s who has been in Japan for more than 30 years. “In all honesty, (a nuclear test) should not be conducted.”
A 30-year-old Korean woman who has lived in Japan for nearly 10 years and runs a clothing store in the area said she was both apprehensive and confident.
“I don’t think it will lead to a war,” she said.
“When a missile was launched recently, there were not so many people on the streets but there was no impact today,” she said.
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