NAGASAKI -- Survivors of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki expressed strong resentment over the Japanese government's policy not to sign or ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons when they met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe here on Aug. 9.
"Which country's prime minister do you think you are?" said Koichi Kawano, 77, chairman of the Nagasaki-ken Heiwa Undo Center Hibakusha Renraku Kyogikai (Nagasaki Prefecture peace movement center's liaison council of A-bomb survivors), as he handed a written request from A-bomb survivors' groups to Abe following a peace ceremony commemorating the 72nd anniversary of the bombing.
"The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has come about, fulfilling the wishes of A-bomb survivors at long last," Kawano said, referring to the international treaty adopted by a vote of more than 120 countries in favor at the United Nations last month. "We appreciate the treaty from the bottom of our hearts. Yet, are you going to desert us?" Kawano questioned Abe.
The meeting between the prime minister and A-bomb survivors' groups is held annually after the Aug. 9 peace ceremony at Peace Park in Nagasaki. While a written request is usually handed to the prime minister quietly at the outset of the meeting, Kawano took the unconventional action, later telling reporters, "I've felt that Nagasaki's 72-year-long outcry that our children and grandchildren must never experience the same tragedy was being ignored."
Kawano also told Prime Minister Abe, "Now is the time for Japan to lead the world," to which Abe made no clear response.
Other A-bomb survivors who attended the peace ceremony also voiced disappointment at Prime Minister Abe, who didn't refer to the nuclear weapons ban treaty during his speech at the ceremony.
"As the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has just been adopted, now is the most crucial time. Why didn't he speak words in support of A-bomb survivors?" said Takeshi Minekawa, 80, who was exposed to the atomic bomb about 2.8 kilometers from the hypocenter when he was 8 years old.