Dear participants from overseas and from across Japan,
On behalf of the Organizing Committee of the 2003 World Conference against A and H Bombs, I extend to you my hearty greetings of welcome and solidarity.
In the aggression against Iraq, the U.S. and British troops used state-of-the-art weapons one after another, took the lives of and injured many innocent people. The Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, victims of the most atrocious weapons, nuclear weapons and I am one of those victims when they thought of the people exposed to the bombing, they cried "stop this outrageous war!" "do not use nuclear and other atrocious weapons!" and they joined the protest march with all the young people.
The war against Iraq was the implementation of a strategy adopted as national strategy by the US Bush administration. It consists of labeling countries as "states supporting terrorism" and overthrowing their governments by pre-emptive strike, in complete disregard of the UN Charter rules for peace. Under this strategy, the U.S. broke the "unequivocal undertaking for the elimination of nuclear weapons" which it supported at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, rejected the conclusion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and embarked on the development of "usable" nuclear weapons such as bunker busters. It intends to continue to hold onto its nuclear weapons and threatens to use them in the 21st century.
The world has not resigned itself to simply accept the outrages of the Bush administration. Voices crying "No to war in Iraq! Observe the rules for peace!" were heard in the demonstrations of millions of people held several times in different parts of the world and transmitted via the Internet and by other means.
We already have two historic examples of what international anti-nuclear, pro-peace public opinion can achieve: the Stockholm Appeal campaign that collected 5,000 million signatures in 1950 and prevented the use of nuclear weapons and the antiwar movement "Do not allow the repetition of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Vietnam and Indochina", a campaign against the Vietnam War. The movement against A and H Bombs grew through these campaigns. I believe that the campaigns against the war on Iraq that spread worldwide are qualitatively different from the ones we saw in the past, for they have created new conditions and new possibilities for realizing a nuclear-free world.
Backed by a powerful public opinion that has shaken the world, a large number of countries including France and Germany, opposed the war and rejected US pressure on the UN to obtain authorization for its war against Iraq. I think this shows that there is a force which has grown significantly and which is capable of thwarting the arbitrary actions of the US aimed at establishing its dominance over the world through the use of its military and economic power.
We have the privilege of having at this Conference people who played central roles in these outstanding campaigns. Governmental representatives of member countries of the New Agenda Group as well as of the Non-Aligned Movement: Sweden, Egypt and Bangladesh, will be with us at this Conference. I am looking forward to having an extensive discussion on the basis of the recent experiences, about how we can create an even greater drive for the elimination of nuclear weapons and against war.
Dear friends, Japan experienced two atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as a nuclear test. It has a Constitution that prohibits the possession of armed forces, a clause based on the self-criticism of the past war of aggression. However, the Koizumi government, despite our protests, established the "contingency laws" to make the Japanese people contribute to the war waged by the US. After having expressed its support for the war in Iraq, it now intends to send the self-defense forces to help the US-British forces in occupying that country. Under the "secret agreement" that allows the US to bring nuclear weapons into Japan, the danger for our country being turned into a base for launching a nuclear pre-emptive attack has become greater than ever before.
The posture of the Japanese government to follow the US in everything can also be seen in its policy of underestimating the A-bomb damage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Because the administration is neglecting their relief, the Hibakusha are now collectively suing the state to force it to recognize that it was the A-bomb that ruined their lives. They are putting all they have into this action in order to denounce the inhumanity of the use of nuclear weapons and to condemn the policy that pre-supposes such use.
We are determined to further develop the movement for a nuclear-free and peaceful Japan.
As we can see, we are at a historic crossroad in regard to the question of war and peace, as well as the question of nuclear weapons. The Bush administration, however, is more and more in conflict with the international community over essential questions such as world peace, global environment and poverty. If we can further strengthen our cooperation and solidarity, it is possible for us to advance in our struggle to create a nuclear-weapon free and war-free world, the main theme of this Conference. To this end, I sincerely hope that you will exchange original, creative and positive ideas on how we can develop our movement and solidarity.
Greetings to you all.