HIROSHIMA – The leader of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, has been denied a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the nongovernmental organization Peace Boat said Monday.
ICAN has asked the Japanese government twice since late December to arrange a meeting between Abe and Executive Director Beatrice Fihn during her visit to Japan, but the Foreign Ministry declined the requests, citing scheduling conflicts, according to Peace Boat, a major steering group member of the Geneva-based organization.
Expressing disappointment over failing to meet Abe on her first visit to Japan, Fihn said in Hiroshima that she wanted to talk with him about how the world can avoid devastation of the type inflicted on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Fihn said she hopes to meet with the prime minister at the next opportunity.
Atomic-bomb survivors also expressed disappointment.
“Does Prime Minister Abe understand the significance of ICAN winning the Noble Peace Prize? It is very regrettable to feel this difference of attitudes between the government and atomic-bomb survivors,” said Hiroko Kishida, a 77-year-old hibakusha in Hiroshima.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo that ICAN’s requests were declined “due to a conflict of schedule. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Fihn arrived in Japan on Friday. After visiting Nagasaki through Sunday, she moved on to Hiroshima and was scheduled to hold discussions with Diet members in Tokyo on Tuesday before leaving Japan on Thursday.
Abe departed Japan on Friday for a six-nation European tour and is scheduled to return home Wednesday.
ICAN, founded in 2007, is a coalition of NGOs that involves about 470 groups from more than 100 countries.