August 29, 2022
TOKYO – Hibakusha survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have expressed anger over the failure of a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review meeting due to Russian opposition.
The meeting was held to discuss how to pursue nuclear disarmament, but failed amid the growing threat of nuclear weapons posed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Members of the hibakusha community have also expressed dissatisfaction with the current framework of the NPT.
“I feel nothing but anger not only towards Russia, but also towards countries that have nuclear weapons,” said Jiro Hamasumi, 76. “We need to make it clearer than before how inhumane nuclear weapons are.”
Hamasumi is a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and now lives in Inagi, Tokyo. He visited the United States alongside the NPT meeting and spoke to young people about his hope for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
The phrase “no first use of nuclear weapons” was removed from the NPT meeting outcome document, as were phrases specifically quoting Russia in relation to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in occupied southern Ukraine by Russian forces. However, Russia continued to oppose the document.
Masao Tomonaga, honorary director of the Japanese Red Cross Nagasaki Genbaku Hospital and a resident of Nagasaki, said, “It would be pointless to pass a document with such concessions. [The breakdown] could have been good for the future.
Tomonaga, 79, is a survivor of the Nagasaki bombing. “The limits have been clearly shown” of the NPT framework, in which decisions must in principle be unanimous, Tomonaga said.
Masako Wada, Deputy Head of the Secretariat of the Japanese Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Victim Organizations, spoke at the NPT meeting as a survivor of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. She spoke the slogan “No more hibakusha”.
“Thus, the voices of the hibakusha were not heard. I am angry at the insincere attitude of the nuclear powers,” said Wada, who is now 78 and lives in Yokohama.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attended the meeting, the first Japanese prime minister to do so, urging the world to “we must ensure that Nagasaki remains the last place to suffer atomic bombing”. Kishida was elected to the Diet of Hiroshima.
Kunihiko Sakuma, president of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of Atomic Bomb Victim Organizations who lives in Hiroshima, expressed his disappointment: “Japan could not fulfill its role as the only country to have suffered atomic bombings during the war. ”
The failure of the meeting shook confidence in the NPT framework and, as a result, the path to nuclear disarmament became increasingly blurred.
Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue issued a statement, “As residents of the city of Nagasaki, which suffered an atomic bombing, we feel deep disappointment and strong anger. This outcome will significantly damage confidence in the NPT itself.
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui also released a statement: “This has dashed the hopes of hibakusha who are calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, and that is extremely regrettable. It turns its back on the determination of human beings to achieve a peaceful world without nuclear weapons and I fear it will cause a truly dangerous situation.