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A-bomb survivors, abductees' kin react to N. Korea nuclear test

Atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, relatives of
Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea and Japanese business
leaders expressed concern Sunday after North Korea conducted its
sixth nuclear test.

The nuclear test also cast a pall over a celebratory mood in
Japan, where just hours after the test, Princess Mako, the eldest
granddaughter of Emperor Akihito, and her boyfriend from university
days held a press conference on their engagement.

"Why wouldn't North Korea try to know that there would be
devastating damage if a nuclear weapon is used?" asked Hiroko
Hatakeyama, a 78-year-old survivor of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of
the western Japan city of Hiroshima.

Shoso Kawamoto, 83, who lost six family members in the atomic
bombing, expressed hope that North Korea and other countries
possessing nuclear weapons will recognize the danger of nuclear
weapons and rethink their stance so the horrors of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki would not be repeated.

He also criticized the United States for prioritizing sanctions
over dialogue in dealing with North Korea -- a policy he said had
inevitably led to North Korea's latest nuclear test.

In Nagasaki, Mayor Tomihisa Taue condemned the nuclear test,
saying in a statement that it was a "reckless act that increases the
risk of the use of nuclear weapons," adding, "The residents of the
atomic-bombed city absolutely cannot tolerate such a foolish act."

Family members of North Korean abduction victims expressed
concern about the impact of the test on the already stalled
negotiations between Tokyo and Pyongyang over the matter.

Sakie Yokota, 81, whose daughter Megumi was abducted to North
Korea in 1977 at age 13, said she and other relatives of the
abductees who have yet to return "cannot do anything or say anything"
in this situation," adding, "I only hope and can say, please bring
them back."

"I am no longer surprised by nuclear tests or missile launches
by North Korea," said Shigeo Iizuka, the 79-year-old head of a group
representing abductees' families, whose younger sister Yaeko Taguchi
was abducted in 1978 at the age of 22.

"I hope the government will not make (the nuclear test by North
Korea) a reason for a lack of progress in the negotiations toward the
abductees' return. I hope it will act with the return of the family
members as a top priority issue."

Japan officially lists 17 nationals as victims of North Korean
abductions in the 1970s and 1980s, but suspects Pyonyang's
involvement in more disappearances. The abduction issue remains an
obstacle to Japan and North Korea normalizing diplomatic ties.

A senior official of a business lobby described the nuclear test
as an "unforgivably reckless act," saying, "If the situation develops
into an armed conflict, its impact on the economy can't be avoided,
and such a risk is increasing."

The official added, however, that stocks are unlikely to fall
sharply come Monday given that market participants had already
factored in the possibility of another nuclear test by North Korea to
some extent.

Another business lobby official acknowledged that there is
little the business community can do about Pyongyang's nuclear and
missile development, saying other countries with stakes in the
situation have no choice but to work closely with one another to
prevent North Korea from proceeding on a dangerous path.

Meanwhile, Korean residents in Tokyo's Shin-Okubo district,
known as a Koreatown, appeared confused about the repercussions of
the latest nuclear test.

"I don't know what Mr. Kim (Jong Un) is thinking," said a woman
in her 60s who has been in Japan for more than 30 years. "In all
honesty, (a nuclear test) should not be conducted."

A 30-year-old Korean woman who has been in Japan for nearly 10
years and runs a clothing store in the area said she was apprehensive
but added, "I don't think it will lead to a war."

"When a missile was launched recently, there were not so many
people on the streets but there was no impact today," she said.

News of Sunday's nuclear test broke just hours before Princess
Mako and Kei Komuro were to hold a news conference about their
engagement. A senior official of the Imperial Household Agency could
not hide disappointment over the development.

"While a nuclear test is unacceptable no matter when it is
conducted, why did it have to be today?" the official said. (Sept. 3)