A-bomb survivors, families of abductees condemn North Korea’s nuclear test

Kyodo

Survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings and relatives of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea expressed anger Wednesday at the news that Pyongyang had detonated a fourth nuclear device.

“I can never forgive it as a hibakusha if North Korea conducted a nuclear test, in a world where the trend is toward the total abolition of nuclear weapons,” said Terumi Tanaka, secretary general of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations.

Others said they are looking to the government for an appropriate response.

“A (nuclear) test should not be done for any reason,” said Hirotami Yamada, secretary general of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivors Council. “We protest it as a hibakusha group, and are paying close attention to what measures the Japanese government will take.”

Civil groups opposed to nuclear weapons also voiced concern.

It is “regrettable” that Pyongyang should claim membership of the nuclear club at a time when world opinion is for abolition, said Akira Kawasaki, co-representative of Peace Boat.

The global nuclear status quo “is being threatened,” he added, noting that a U.N. review conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ended without a joint declaration last May.

Family members of individuals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s expressed anger over the move’s possible impact on relations between Japan and North Korea. Talks on finding out what happened to those who are still missing have stalled.

“North Korea has repeated the same sort of thing for decades,” said Sakie Yokota, 79, whose daughter Megumi was abducted and taken to North Korea in 1977 at the age of 13. “What we hope for is an early return of our family member,” she said.

Katsunobu Kato, state minister in charge of the abduction issue, told reporters the latest development “is a matter that obviously goes against U.N. resolutions. We would like to respond in a proper manner,” after assessing a range of factors.