President of Marshall Islands meets Japanese prime minister, expresses solidarity with A-bomb survivors

by Jumpei Fujimura, Staff Writer

On February 14, Christopher Loeak, president of the Marshall Islands, met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his official residence. Mr. Loeak is visiting Japan in connection with the 60th anniversary of a hydrogen bomb test conducted by the United States at the Bikini Atoll, in which crew members of the “Daigo Fukuryu Maru” (“The Lucky Dragon No. 5”), a Japanese fishing boat, were exposed to radioactive fallout, along with residents of the Marshall Islands. Mr. Loeak said that this was a timely visit and he expressed solidarity with the people of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Fukushima. He is scheduled to pay his first official visit to Hiroshima on February 15.

At his meeting with Mr. Abe, Mr. Loeak stressed the symbolism of his nation showing solidarity with the A-bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as those who have suffered as a result of the accident at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture. In a joint press conference with the prime minister following the meeting, he raised the issue of residual radiation wrought by the hydrogen bomb tests, saying that some citizens of the Marshall Islands are still unable to return to their home islands and addressing this problem remains a challenge.

At their meeting, the two leaders agreed to promote cooperation for the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) scheduled for May 2015 in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, among other actions.

Mr. Loeak arrived in Japan on February 12. It is his second visit to Japan, following a first visit in May 2012.

(Originally published on February 15, 2014)