TOKYO: Hiroshima A-bomb survivor Sunao Tsuboi, who became a prominent campaigner for nuclear disarmament and met Barack Obama on his historic visit to the city, has died aged 96, his advocacy group said Wednesday.
According to Kyodo News Agency Tsuboi, who served as a chairperson of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, drew international attention in 2016 when he met with then U.S. President Barack Obama during the latter’s historic visit to the western Japanese city, the site of the world’s first atomic bombing on Aug. 6, 1945.
Tsuboi was a student at the precursor to Hiroshima University and on his way to school when exposed to the blast around 1.2 kilometres away from ground zero. He suffered severe burns.
After working as a junior high teacher, he devoted himself to anti-nuclear activities, conveying the horror of nuclear weapons for decades at home and abroad and calling for their elimination.
He visited various countries, including nuclear-weapon states such as the United States, India and Pakistan, to share his experience of the bombing.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who was foreign minister when Obama visited Hiroshima, recalled Tsuboi’s effort to create a nuclear-free world.
“Mr Tsuboi offered help on different occasions in our goal of realizing a world without nuclear weapons, and we exchanged ideas, and he participated when then U.S. President Obama visited Hiroshima,” Kishida, who represents a constituency in Hiroshima Prefecture, said in a Twitter post.
“I am determined to move forward by engraving in my memory Mr Tsuboi’s thoughts,” he said.
In May 2016, Tsuboi attended a ceremony during which Obama delivered a speech at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima as the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city. Tsuboi shook hands and exchanged words with the U.S. leader.