A group of people who survived the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki urged Washington to scrap its nuclear weapons at a protest rally ahead of President George W. Bush’s visit to Tokyo on Friday.

Some 30 protesters led by the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo around 11 a.m., carrying a banner reading, “No More Hibakusha.”

“We, the hibakusha, never tolerate the threat of nuclear weapons by any party, notwithstanding if it is the United States or North Korea,” group leader Eiji Nakanishi read from a statement.

Two other members approached the embassy’s gate and handed a letter to a staff member, saying they want Bush to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki and witness their suffering.

Bush arrived in Tokyo on Friday afternoon and held talks with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Peace activist’s plea

An American veteran and peace activist who published a popular comic book about U.S. militarism urged Japan on Friday to play no part in the U.S. military policy concerning Iraq.

“The war is wrong and illegal. The U.S. invaded Iraq and immorally killed innocent people,” 55-year-old Frank Dorrel, who served in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in the Philippines during the Vietnam War, told reporters in Tokyo.

“I’m here to tell people to not send troops to Iraq, not send money to help the United States in Iraq.”

Dorrel revived and updated in 2002 the out-of-print “Addicted to War: Why the U.S. Can’t Kick Militarism,” which was written in 1992 by American sociologist Joel Andreas.

He has sold more than 100,000 copies of the new edition in the U.S.

The comic was translated into Japanese, with 70,000 copies of the Japanese version having since been sold.

Dorrel, 55, said people are not told the truth because the media often play along with the government in times of war.

“But people are waking up,” he said, claiming that the peace movement in the U.S. is larger than ever because of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the war on Iraq.

“I encourage people in Japan to do the same and try to teach and educate (people) about the truth.”

Dorrel arrived in Tokyo on Saturday and is scheduled to give lectures around Japan until he leaves on Oct. 25.

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