A-bomb survivors angry at G-7 summit

Leaders of guest nations and international organizations invited to the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima offer flowers at the cenotaph for atomic bomb victims at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on May 21, 2023, the last day of the three-day event in the western Japanese city. (Kyodo)

HIROSHIMA  — Many atomic bomb survivors, including campaigner Setsuko Thurlow, voiced anger and disappointment at the Group of Seven nations’ summit on May 21 after the leaders released a statement that supported the possession of nuclear weapons for deterrence and failed to mention the treaty banning nuclear arms.

The 91-year-old Thurlow called the G-7 summit a “huge failure” in the closing hours of the three-day gathering, calling the Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament statement issued at the end of the first day “blasphemy against atomic bomb survivors.”
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had billed the gathering in Hiroshima, a western Japan city devastated by a U.S. atomic bomb, as an opportunity to advocate a “world without nuclear weapons.”

“I felt no pulse, no warmth from the voices of the G-7 leaders,” said Thurlow, now living in Canada. She was 13 when the bomb fell and leveled her home city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, taking the lives of eight of her relatives including her 4-year-old nephew.

The Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations said the G-7 summit dashed people’s hopes and expectations for the abolition of nuclear weapons and instead became a conference that fans war by giving support to nuclear deterrence and security under a nuclear umbrella.

“Nuclear weapons are an absolute evil that cannot coexist with humans,” Jiro Hamasumi, an assistant secretary general of the group, told an online press conference.

“As a survivor of an atomic bombing, I am outraged,” said the 77-year-old Hamasumi, referring to the fact that the statement did not mention the survivors or the U.N. treaty banning nuclear weapons but backed nuclear deterrence.

“What was the point of hosting it in Hiroshima?” said Hamasumi, who was in his mother’s womb when exposed to the blast.

Survivors have urged Japan to take part in the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which entered into force in 2021, even without nuclear weapons states signing up.

Japan has been reluctant to do so as it relies on the protection of the U.S. nuclear umbrella under a long-standing security alliance.

In an unprecedented move, the G-7 leaders, including of nuclear states, the United States, Britain and France, visited the city’s peace museum documenting the devastation of the 1945 atomic bombing in the Hiroshima Peace Park on the first day of the summit.

But survivors were unsatisfied that the details of the visit were not disclosed.

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