Our organization had worked very hard to hand over our children a world without nuclear weapons, with a hope to achieve such a world during the 20th century. We were greatly encouraged by the gunequivocal undertakingh by the nuclear weapons states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals at the United Nations Millennium Assembly last year. The undertaking has given us one more drive to continue our efforts for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Before the Millennium Assembly, our organization doubled our efforts on the signature drive for the Appeal from Hiroshima and Nagasaki calling for a total ban on and the elimination of nuclear weapons. The number of people who have signed the Appeal is now over 60 million in this country, a majority of the population. This was reported at the United Nations at the start of the First Committee of the General Assembly, which discusses issues of disarmament and international security. In doing so, the reporter call on the Committee for its sincere response to the earnest desire for a nuclear weapon free world. Right after the last yearfs Conference, our Association made it a goal to collect 10 million signatures for the Appeal. In October, our members joined the Japan Gensuikyo delegation to take part in the NGO sessions held around the Millennium Assembly in New York. That experience helped confirm our belief in the power of grass-roots movement, that it can give a big impact on international politics. One by one, we asked people to endorse the Appeal until we reached the 10 million goal, which we are proud to say in having contributed to the 60 million signatures in Japan as a whole. The Appeal has been endorsed by more than 100 million people world-wide since the start of the campaign.
When we ask people for their endorsement for the Appeal, we make sure that we give inform them with facts about the A-bombing and damage caused by it. We organize meetings to listen to the testimony of the Hibakusha and exhibitions on war and peace in local communities. We also present picture panels showing the effect and damage of the bombing to women organizations and schools in Japan and other countries. We run an advertisement on the New York Times; gWomenfs Forum - Away with Nuclear Weaponsh. This urges the UN member states to vote for resolutions calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons at the U.N. Millennium Assembly. 2000 women endorsed the campaign and their names appeared with the ad.
Our members encouraged each in reaching the set goal of collecting 10 million signatures. One way was to make a tapestry carrying names of our local groups, which achieved their own goal. The tapestry was taken to New York to be shown in a demonstration during the Millennium Assembly. When we finally had the 10 million signatures we congratulated ourselves. We invited our members to write poems, one of which was chosen for a song titled gDoves, Fly High!h This will appear in our weekly newslater to be published during this Conference.
It is our hope that the gunequivocal undertakingh agreed upon by all UN member states, including the nuclear weapons states will be implemented without delay. We are fully aware of the trend to go against it. Despite having committed itself to the undertaking, the U.S. Bush administration is pushing ahead with gMissile Defenseh systems. The administration is also pressing the Japanese government not only for its technical and financial contribution. It wants Japan to greviseh Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution so that Japan could send its military forces to take full part in the collective defense. Prime Minister of Japan, Koizumi Jun-ichiro has expressed gunderstandingh to such U.S. demands, together his willing to greviseh Article 9. Such a political intension has invited strong criticism from other countries, particularly Asian countries. The same can be said to Koizumifs plan to pay visit to the Yasukuni Shrine for the war dead and the authorization of textbooks that glorifies the war of aggression and distort its facts. We are engaged in a nationwide campaign to stop and oppose such militaristic moves.
The world is closely watching on how the governments are going to fulfill their unequivocal undertaking. I would suggest that the Conference propose an international conference where all the governments that agreed on the undertaking take part in to discuss in steps to achieve the undertaking. It is also important to develop international joint efforts of peace organizations to block Bush administrationfs despotic unilateralism, such as its attempt to make the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty a dead letter. We should also watch closely on their attempt to undermine international agreements on issues like human rights, environmental protection and eradication of poverty. Only when every nation benefits from development based on peace and equality, we can guarantee a bright future to our children.