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Hibakusha reaction to US-N. Korea summit mixed in Japan

The Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, left, and the Peace Statue in Nagasaki. (Mainichi)

Reactions to the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were divided among the survivors of atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that devastated the cities more than seven decades ago.

"The meeting was meaningful as the closed door between the U.S. and North Korea is now open," said Koichi Kawano, a survivor of the plutonium bomb dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945. "But I expected President Trump to draw a more detailed promise on denuclearization from (Workers' Party of Korea) Chairman Kim Jong Un, so I feel a bit frustrated," added Kawano, 78, chairman of the Japan Congress Against A- and H-Bombs (Gensuikin).

Kawano praised the fact that the two leaders agreed on seeking denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but pointed out that the locations and numbers of North Korean nuclear weapons and missiles were unknown.

"The joint statement from the summit failed to mention verifiable and irreversible denuclearization," he said, adding, "We don't have much time, and we would like to see the results of denuclearization. We will closely monitor how things will develop."

Tamashii Honda, who heads a group of families of atomic bomb victims in Nagasaki, took a cool view of summit. "President Trump wants to promote himself, and Chairman Kim wants sanctions removed by all means, so their interests are aligned in the same direction now. We're not overjoyed (about the summit)," said Honda, 74, from the town of Togitsu in Nagasaki Prefecture.

Terumi Tanaka, 86, co-chairperson of Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo), told a news conference in Tokyo that Trump and Kim appeared to have established a degree of mutual trust. "Trust is necessary to move ahead, so I do appreciate that," Tanaka said, adding, "Apparently future negotiations will determine how to proceed with denuclearization. The heart of the issue remains unresolved."

Assistant Secretary-General Toshiki Fujimori, 74, did not hide his dissatisfaction with the summit, saying that he wanted the leaders to move ahead further. "The start line lies ahead of us," he said.

Tomoyuki Mimaki, 76, vice chair of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations, welcomed the latest developments, saying he is happy that the U.S.-North Korea summit has initiated moves toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. He nevertheless pointed out that no clear path toward getting rid of nuclear weapons was outlined, adding that the process will take a long time. "The whole world must watch every move by North Korea. The five major nuclear powers must also commit themselves to nuclear disarmament," Mimaki said.

(Japanese original by Yuki Imano and Sayo Kato, Nagasaki Bureau, Asako Takeuchi, City News Department)

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