Six groups representing non-Japanese survivors of the atomic bombings are pressing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to correct his remarks that the Japanese are the “only people” to have experienced nuclear devastation in war.
When Abe gave the annual prime minister speeches at the anniversary ceremonies in Nagasaki and Hiroshima last August, he stated: “We Japanese are the only people to have experienced the horror of nuclear devastation in war. As such a people, we bear a responsibility to bring about ‘a world without nuclear weapons’ without fail.”
The six groups lodged a formal request Thursday asking Abe to correct the record, saying his remarks are contrary to the facts. Three of the groups represent survivors in South Korea and the other three represent survivors in North America and Brazil.
“It doesn’t mean that there were no survivors other than the Japanese. We take seriously the notification that it can cause misunderstanding,” an official from the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry told members of the groups during a meeting in the Diet building.
A member of one of the South Korean groups pressed the Japanese officials, asking, “Do you mean we misunderstand (the facts)?”
Their formal request points out that people exposed to the bombings included those who were forced to come to Japan from China, the Korean Peninsula and Southeast Asia, as well as prisoners of war from countries including the United States and Britain.
Abe’s anniversary remarks were also incompatible with government policy to enhance assistance for atomic bomb survivors outside Japan, according to the groups.
The welfare ministry indicated that a reply to the groups will be made in writing.
According to ministry data, about 4,450 people overseas as of March had been given the A-bomb survivor’s handbook, which makes them eligible for some allowances even outside Japan. South Korea has the most with 3,060, followed by 990 in the United States and 50 in Brazil. Some of them are also believed to be in North Korea, but their situations remain unknown.