National

A-bomb survivors praise denuclearization agreement at inter-Korean summit

JIJI — Survivors of the August 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki welcomed the denuclearization accord reached at Friday’s rare summit between North and South Korea.

“It’s wonderful,” said 73-year-old Kunihiko Sakuma, head of a hibakusha group in Hiroshima Prefecture, while watching TV coverage of the joint announcement by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in that wrapped up the summit.

“It’s a major step forward that the North and the South declared they will work together to denuclearize (the Korean Peninsula),” he said.

While the joint declaration adopted at the meeting mentioned no specific actions toward denuclearization, Sakuma expressed hope that concrete steps will be discussed at the summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump expected by early June.

“Some may say that North Korea is untrustworthy, but the hibakusha’s position is that nuclear weapons must be abolished,” he said, adding that he hopes the two summits will lead to the abandonment of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

“Things went in line with the wishes of hibakusha,” said Koichi Kawano, 78, who leads a group in Nagasaki Prefecture. He called the denuclearization goal in the North-South declaration “very pleasing” news.

“We expect specific denuclearization steps will be proposed at the U.S-North Korea summit,” Kawano said. That summit “will hopefully produce a breakthrough toward a nuclear-free world,” he added.

In contrast, relatives of Japanese abducted by North Korea decades ago voiced disappointment that the abduction issue was not referred to in the declaration.

The inter-Korean summit was “a milestone event but seemed to us a superficial performance,” said Shigeo Iizuka, 79, who represents a group of abductees’ families.

Sakie Yokota, 82, whose daughter Megumi was kidnapped in 1977 when she was 13, said, “I can’t say anything unless the content of the talks is reported in detail.”

Coronavirus banner