• Kyodo


Survivors of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Sunday welcomed Democrat Joe Biden's victory in the U.S. presidential election, and hope that negotiations on nuclear disarmament will advance under his administration.

Survivors of the 1945 bombings of the two cities expressed expectations that Biden, a Democrat who defeated Republican President Donald Trump in Tuesday's poll, will address the issue of nuclear weapons after he takes office in January next year.

"We expect to see progress in negotiations on nuclear disarmament after a change of president," said Kunihiko Sakuma, head of a Hiroshima-based group supporting survivors and himself an A-bomb victim.

"I would like the United States to participate as an observer in meetings of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which will take effect in January next year," Sakuma, 76, said, referring to the U.N. treaty adopted in 2017.

In August, Biden, the former vice president under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, said he will strive for a world without nuclear weapons and criticized the Republican incumbent for undermining past efforts to curb the dangers of such arsenals.

"I will work to bring us closer to a world without nuclear weapons, so that the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are never repeated," Biden said in a statement released on the 75th A-bomb anniversary in Hiroshima.

Sakuma, however, said it may be difficult to change the policy of the United States, a major nuclear power.

"Even though he may want to eliminate nuclear weapons, it will be difficult to make a significant policy change unless (the United States) overcomes the perception that the existence of nuclear weapons ensures stability in the international community," he said, in reference to a theory of nuclear deterrence.

In Nagasaki, Mayor Tomihisa Taue said he would "welcome" Biden's effort to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

"If the United States moves toward nuclear disarmament, it will speed up the international community's efforts toward nuclear abolition," Taue said in a statement.

Takeshi Yamakawa, a former teacher who survived the attack in Nagasaki, said he would like Biden to present a specific plan to realize nuclear abolition, given that Obama — who had advocated a world without nuclear weapons — failed to accomplish it.

But since Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima in 2016, Yamakawa, 84, said the president-elect should pay a visit to Nagasaki.

"Why shouldn't Mr. Biden become the first-ever U.S. president to visit Nagasaki? That will create an opportunity for him to show his desire to respond to the wishes of the survivors," he said.

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