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Hiroshima group protests US subcritical nuclear tests conducted in 2021

A-bomb survivors, peace organization members and others protest the United States' subcritical nuclear tests before the cenotaph for A-bomb victims at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in the city's Naka Ward on April 13, 2022. (Mainichi/Kiyomasa Nakamura)

HIROSHIMA -- "Whatever the reason, this cannot be tolerated." So said a group of A-bomb survivors and others in Hiroshima on April 13, after it was revealed that the United States conducted subcritical nuclear tests last year, the first such tests under the administration of President Joe Biden.

    Voices of protest and concern were raised in Hiroshima, which suffered the atomic bombing during World War II, in response to the United States' actions that may further worsen the world's nuclear crisis amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

    About 45 members of the Hiroshima Peace Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which consists of hibakusha groups and other bodies, gathered before the cenotaph for A-bomb victims at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and protested the subcritical nuclear experiments. They held a banner reading, "We strongly protest against all nuclear tests on behalf of the A-bombed city of Hiroshima."

    Toshiyuki Mimaki, 80, director-general of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations, participated in the demonstration and expressed his anger, saying, "I want to say, 'Biden, you too?'" He commented, "I'm worried that this may trigger Russia's use of nuclear weapons."

    Kunihiko Sakuma, 77, chairman of a separate A-bomb survivors' organization based in Hiroshima Prefecture, criticized the move, saying, "I thought that Mr. Biden would work toward nuclear disarmament. Nuclear powers do not have the viewpoint of abolishing nuclear weapons themselves, and only think about how they should possess them."

    On April 13, the Hiroshima Municipal Government sent a letter of protest under the name of Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui to President Biden and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel. The city condemned the United States' actions by stating, "The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to fuel the idea that military forces are the only way to suppress violence committed by military forces. The fact that your country has conducted these tests demonstrates a firm determination to modernize U.S. nuclear forces. Nuclear tests of any kind are utterly unacceptable."

    The city demanded that the United States "never lose sight of the goal -- striving for a world free of nuclear weapons -- and take action for this goal based in reason."

    On the same day, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum reset its "Chikyu Heiwa Kanshi Dokei (Peace Watch Tower)" clock, which indicates the number of days that have passed since the latest nuclear test took place. The clock that was set at "499 days," referring to the November 2020 test under the administration of then U.S. President Donald Trump, was adjusted to indicate "209 days," as the latest subcritical nuclear test was conducted on Sept. 16, 2021.

    (Japanese original by Kiyomasa Nakamura and Akari Terouchi, Hiroshima Bureau)

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