National / Politics

Japan playing 'victim' in nuclear abolition motion, says China

Kyodo

China again plans to vote against a Japan-led resolution calling to abolish nuclear weapons on the grounds that Tokyo is using the atomic bomb survivors to present itself as a victim of World War II, according to a Chinese envoy.

“This goes back to our position that there is no need to highlight Hiroshima and Nagasaki in this exercise, in this nuclear disarmament resolution, because their real intention, in our view, is not for nuclear disarmament,” Chinese Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs Fu Cong told Kyodo News in a recent interview.

“In our view, their intention is again to play victim.”

This year’s draft resolution to the United Nations encourages “every effort to raise awareness of the realities of the use of nuclear weapons” through visits by leaders, youth and others to communities and interactions with people including hibakusha to pass on their experiences to future generations.

The text also welcomes recent visits by leaders, particularly “the visit to Hiroshima by the President of the United States” — after Barack Obama visited the city in May as the first sitting U.S. president to do so.

Fu objects to both parts of the resolution and said, “We are going to vote against it.”

He also took aim at the use of the word hibakusha, which he said contained Chinese characters that meant bomb survivors, not atomic bomb survivors specifically.

He suggested that other bomb survivors in China and other neighboring countries during Japan’s wartime military operations should also be considered.

“Does Japan mean that during the World War II there were no other hibakusha than those who were bombed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?” he asked.

He acknowledged China’s sympathy for the Japanese atomic bomb survivors by saying, “They were, of course, the victims of the war.”

The stance continues after Beijing first expressed objections to Japan-led efforts last year. China was ardently opposed to proposed references to visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki by world leaders during negotiations on an outcome document at the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Review Conference.

In the end, the references were dropped but the document did not get the consensus it needed to be adopted.

Last fall, Japan inserted an invitation to “cities devastated by nuclear weapons” for the first time in its annual resolution to eliminate atomic weapons, which China voted against.

Japan had pressed to have the wording added to coincide with the 70th anniversary of World War II, and after both cities were leveled by atomic bombs in August 1945.

Japan has introduced nonbinding resolutions on the same subject for 23 years in a row, with all of the past motions having been adopted by the U.N. General Assembly.

If endorsed by the First Committee on disarmament and security issues, the draft is likely to be sent to the plenary session of the General Assembly for final adoption in December.