Keisaburo helps Koreans and other non-Japanese atom bomb survivors


Keisaburo Toyonaga fumed when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his speech here two years ago that Japanese are “the only people” to have suffered from an atomic bombing.

The hawkish leader’s words at the anniversaries of the 1945 US bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki prompted Mr. Toyonaga and others to lodge a strong protest. There were foreigners living in Japan at the time who also suffered, they said.

Mr. Abe did not use the phrase in speeches marking last year’s anniversaries.

Toyonaga, a longtime crusader for Korean survivors of the atomic bombings, says Abe’s remarks were insensitive because tens of thousands of Koreans and other non-Japanese living in those cities were also killed and injured.

About 30,000 Koreans died in the detonation of the first atomic bomb in Hiroshima, nearly 20 percent of the total deaths, estimates his group, the Association of Citizens for Supporting South Korean Atomic Bomb Victims. Chinese, American, and European POWs were also among the dead and injured in the attacks, explains the diminutive Toyonaga, himself a survivor of the atomic blast at Hiroshima.

For more than four decades, Toyonaga has been campaigning on behalf of Korean and other foreign survivors since he came to learn that they had not received any assistance from the Japanese government.

“Mr. Toyonaga was among the first who came to learn the plight of Korean victims and became very active,” says Haruko Moritaki, a Hiroshima-based board member of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons.

Why were so many Koreans victims of the atomic bombing? Toyonaga is asked.

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