A-bomb survivors’ group in Hiroshima vows to strengthen petition drive to outlaw nuclear arms

On December 19, Kazuo Okoshi, 74, secretary general of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations, chaired by Kazushi Kaneko, held a press conference at Hiroshima City Hall. Mr. Okoshi had visited Vienna, Austria, in connection with the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, which was organized by the Austrian government and held on December 8 and 9. He vowed to strengthen the group’s petition drive, saying, “I felt the importance of continuing our campaign to have nuclear weapons outlawed.”

Mr. Okoshi stayed in Europe for eight days, starting from December 5, as a member of the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo), dispatched by its Hiroshima chapter. Although he was unable to observe the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, because capacity at the venue was limited, he took part in a forum held by non-governmental organizations (NGO), which discussed measures to make nuclear arms illegal. He also shared his A-bomb account at a local university.

At the press conference in Hiroshima, Mr. Okoshi spoke critically of Toshio Sano, the Japanese ambassador for disarmament. At the conference in Vienna, Mr. Sano refuted the idea that it would be impossible to establish ways to provide necessary assistance in the event of a nuclear weapon explosion, calling that view “a little pessimistic.” Meanwhile, Mr. Okoshi said there are a number of nations which support a nuclear weapons convention and stressed that “We would like to change the Japanese government’s position by creating unwavering public opinion for the abolition of nuclear weapons.” He added that Japan Gensuikyo plans to collect over seven million signatures nationwide before the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) next spring in order to submit them to the United Nations.

(Originally published on December 20, 2014)