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Hiroshima A-bomb survivors denounce ex-PM Abe's 'nuclear sharing' comment

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Mainichi)

HIROSHIMA -- Atomic bombing survivors are fiercely protesting against recent comments by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after he said on a Feb. 27 TV program that Japan should discuss the possibility of a nuclear sharing arrangement with the U.S. amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, denouncing his comment as "extremely dangerous."

    "I'm appalled," said Toshiyuki Mimaki, 79, director-general of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, about the former prime minister's comment. He added, "I want to surround the National Diet building with other A-bomb survivors and tell him to retract his remark."

    Mimaki, an A-bomb survivor, or hibakusha, himself, also expressed concerns over the direction Japan is headed, saying, "We've protected Japan's non-nuclear (weapon) and no-war policy for 76 years, but I feel as if politics is heading in a dangerous direction. I can't die in peace when things are like this."

    Kunihiko Sakuma, 77, chairman of a separate A-bomb survivors' organization based in Hiroshima Prefecture which shares the name with the abovementioned group, met with Abe when he was in office at an annual hibakusha-prime minister meeting held after the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony on Aug. 6. Sakuma told the Mainichi Shimbun, "He had always said Japan would 'maintain the three non-nuclear principles (of non-possession, non-production and non-introduction of nuclear weapons into the country)' on the atomic bombing memorial days, but I felt the recent comment revealed his true colors." Sakuma said, infuriatingly, "Japan is supposed to lead the nuclear abolition movement as the victim of wartime atomic bombings."

    Sakuma also expressed his fear, saying that he feels like public opinion is shifting to support Japan arming itself with nuclear weapons following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin's comments on the country's nuclear arms. He said, "It's really scary. Peace cannot be maintained by nuclear weapons. It'll only create a vicious cycle, in which fear is fueled by a nuclear arms race. It's an extremely dangerous line of thought and we need to change it from the roots."

    Satoshi Tanaka, 77, director-general of a liaison council for Hiroshima A-bomb survivors' support groups, one of the seven main hibakusha organizations based in Hiroshima, was exposed to radiation from the 1945 Hiroshima atomic bombing when he was 1 year old after he went into the city with his mother who was looking for their family in the immediate aftermath. Fifteen of Tanaka's family members were exposed to the bomb's radiation, four died immediately afterward and one still remains missing.

    Tanaka said, "We must reduce the number of nuclear arms even just by one or two amid the increased crisis over a possible nuclear war. It's time Japan set up a negotiation table for nuclear disarmament." He condemned former Prime Minister Abe's comment, saying, "It's utterly unacceptable as his remark could spur a nuclear arms race."

    (Japanese original by Misa Koyama, Hiroshima Bureau)

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