International Meeting

2002 World Conference against A and H Bombs

Shoji Sawada

Organizer's Address

Dear friends from abroad and from all over Japan,

The 2002 World Conference against A and H Bombs is taking place at a time when we are facing new dangers in relation to the issue of nuclear weapons and the question of war or peace.  Allow me on behalf of the Organizing Committee to welcome and offer greetings of solidarity to all participants in this important conference.

Friends,

The call from Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the elimination of nuclear weapons has spread throughout the whole world. Thanks to the relentless efforts over the last half-century, these calls have merged into a powerful current.  In 2000, the final year of the 20th century, five nuclear weapon states, including the United States, agreed on an gunequivocal undertaking to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.h

However, our call for the implementation of this gundertakingh is confronted with a serious adverse current.

The Bush Administration has, from the outset turned its back on its promise to eliminate nuclear weapons and it has even refused to ratify Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, declaring that gnuclear weapons have a vital role to play for U.S. securityh.  The gNuclear Posture Review,h which the Defense Department submitted to the U.S. Congress at the beginning of this year, set forth a brazen strategy that includes the use of nuclear weapons.  Under the pretext of the need to combat terrorism, the NPR put forward plans to develop and produce new earth-penetrating nuclear weapons capable of destroying underground facilities.  It justified the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries and even preemptive nuclear strikes.  Moreover, the Bush administration, which continues its war in Afghanistan, is declaring a unilateral war plan against Iraq.  The situation is very grave indeed.

The military confrontation between India and Pakistan, which have emerged as two nuclear powers in South Asia, is now a source of deep concern among their neighbors.  But here too, in order to remove the threat of nuclear war from Asia, it is essential to stay the authoritarian hand of the superpower a hand which continues to brandish its nuclear weapons.

Friends,

Listen to international opinion and you will realize that criticism of the new U.S. nuclear policy and its plans for interventionist war is spreading all over the world. Even U.S. allies are joining the chorus.  Throughout the world, voices of criticism are increasing towards U.S. unilateralism in its approach to a whole range of global issues, including the environment and the increase in poverty.  Even in the United States, public opinion against war and calls for peace are increasing, especially among young people. 

The unity of the peoples of the world has been effective in creating a powerful current that propels the movement towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.  In recent years, we have used the World Conference as an opportunity to strengthen cooperation between NGOs and the non-nuclear governments. I believe that if we further build on these experiences, we open a way forward toward a 21st century free of nuclear weapons.

Last year, government representatives attended the World Conference.  This year, government officials from Egypt and Malaysia will join us at the Hiroshima Rally on August 4.  In this regard, I hope that, in addition to the tasks facing the anti-nuclear and peace movement, our discussion will take up the issue of cooperation between citizensf movements and governments committed to the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Whereas the U.S. Bush administration is openly discussing the possible use of nuclear weapons, I want to raise the question of the consequences. What is it that Hiroshima and Nagasaki are saying to us? What they teach us is this: that though the explosive yield of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were very small by present standards, the damage caused shows us clearly that nuclear weapons must not be used against anyone for whatever reason and that nuclear weapons and humans cannot coexist.  The call for gNo more Hiroshimas! No more Nagasakis! No more Hibakusha!h must be heard anew, everywhere in the world.

Today, Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are launching a new action in protest against a Japanese government which continues to underestimate the damage suffered by A-bomb victims and which refuses to reform an administration intent upon abandoning the Hibakusha. Hibakusha have collectively applied for their recognition as survivors with illnesses caused by the atomic bombing. They are determined to file a class-action lawsuit against the government.  The Hibakusha want to use this new struggle as a way to let the public know how inhumane the use of nuclear weapons is and to condemn the policy that endorses their use.  They are obliged to do so because the Japanese governmentfs underestimation of the damage from the atomic bombing arises from its position of accepting the United Statesf use of nuclear weapons. Such a position is unworthy of the government of the atomic bombed country. 

The Japanese government wants to cooperate with U.S. wars that will maintain the option of using nuclear weapons and the option of preemptive strikes. It is trying to enact gcontingency lawsh that will allow it to mobilize the Japanese self-defense forces to support U.S. troops, and to even use force. They will also allows it to compel the population to collaborate in these wars.  In the parliamentary session that ended a few days ago, the enactment of the wartime laws  was successfully blocked through powerful popular criticism and actions.  We are determined to strengthen the campaign to prevent the enactment of these  manifestly unconstitutional gcontingency laws.h

The Japanese government says it maintains the Three Non-nuclear Principles as for national policy, but this same government concluded gsecret nuclear agreementsh with the United States U.S. nuclear weapons to be brought into Japan.  The danger is now grater than ever before that, under the secret agreements, Japan will be used as a base for U.S. preemptive nuclear strikes.  In this context, the government is more and more candid in going against the abolition of nuclear weapons. Government officialsf remarks suggesting that the Three Non-nuclear Principles may be altered are one such example.  I believe that the Japanese popular movement has an increasingly important responsibility for setting the earth free of nuclear weapons and for achieving a peaceful world.  I hope that this World Conference will help deepen understanding between the Japanese movements and the movements in the rest of the world. 

gWorking Together For A Peaceful And Promising World without Nuclear Weapons,h the main theme of the present World Conference carries all our hopes.  What are the signs leading us beyond new adversities towards the elimination of nuclear weapons and a peaceful world?  What must we do now?  I conclude my speech by expressing my hope that creative ideas will be discussed and that these ideas will provide clear answers to these questions.  Thank you.