Japanese atomic bomb victims protest North Korea's nuclear test

Protestors hold a sit-in protest at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan.
PHOTO: Reuters

Protests were held Thursday against North Korea following claims by Pyongyang that it had successfully carried out a hydrogen bomb test, while local governments along the Sea of Japan began strengthening their monitoring for radioactive materials.

About 150 people, including atomic bomb survivors, staged a sit-in protest for 30 minutes starting around noon at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Naka Ward, Hiroshima.

Participants sat before the cenotaph for victims of the atomic bomb, holding a banner with the message, "We strongly protest against all nuclear tests on behalf of the A-bombed city of Hiroshima." Sunao Tsuboi, chairman of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-Bomb Sufferers Organisations, said to participants: "Testing nuclear weapons is an outrageous action. Peace can never be realised by depending on the force of arms."

In Tokyo, about 60 people - including members of the Korean Residents Union in Japan, known as Mindan - raised their voices in protest in front of the General Association of Korean Residents (Chongryon) central headquarters in Chiyoda Ward.

"We want North Korea to stop nuclear development as soon as possible, and act in harmony with others by opening its doors to international society," said a senior official from Mindan headquarters.

Local municipalities in areas along the Sea of Japan began performing full-scale measurement of radioactive materials on Thursday morning.

In Ishikawa Prefecture, four prefectural government employees collected about a kilogram of soil at a middle school yard in the city of Hakusan. A 33-year-old chief engineer with the prefectural government's nuclear security measures office said, "We want to give residents of the prefecture accurate information so they'll feel relieved."

The Yamagata prefectural government also started sampling materials such as dust floating in the air at the Yamagata Prefectural Institute of Public Health in the city of Yamagata from Thursday morning.

In Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture, senior city officials held a crisis management meeting and confirmed procedures, including information centralization, in case a problem is detected.