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Speech at the National Conference of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament-UK

Hiroshi TAKA
The Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs

Dear friends,

It is a great honor for me to be invited to speak to this prominent Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament-UK. I take this opportunity to extend the warmest greetings of solidarity from our movement against A and H bombs and the Hibakusha, the surviving victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Your movement is well known in Japan from its very early days. Bertrand Russell never forgot to send his message of solidarity to the World Conference against A and H Bombs since its outset in the 1955; Peggy Duff, with her cigar, came to Japan very often to help us to organize our conference; and all your delegates, including Bruce Kent, Kate Hudson and Peter Leary, your student leader, kept us reminded that CND was with us in our common cause to rid the human race of the danger of nuclear annihilation.

In the worldwide action against the outrageous attack on Iraq, your peace movement played a pioneering role. The rally of over 400 thousands people who filled in Trafalgar Square in September two years ago and even bigger rallies that followed urged us to rise in action together to say, "the people in the 21st century no longer want war as means to resolve international conflict". I hope that you will continue setting an example in attaining a world without war and without nuclear weapons.


Our movement against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs started in 1954 when the US conducted a hydrogen bomb test at the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific on March 1, 1954. The damage caused by it triggered spontaneous protest actions everywhere in Japan; a signature campaign spread nationwide; and the number of the signatures collected reached 32 million in one year. Against this background, the 1st World Conference against A and H Bombs was held in 1955, and our organization founded on September 19 the same year by the organizations that ran the signature campaigns and those that sponsored the world conference. The annual, nationwide peace march started in 1958, the same year you started your march to Aldermaston.

Through many ups and downs, successes and difficulties, we have carried forward since then the three basic goals of: 1) prevention of nuclear war, 2) a total ban and the elimination of nuclear weapons, and 3) the relief and solidarity with the Hibakusha, the A-bomb survivors. One recent successful campaign was a signature drive based on the "Appeal from Hiroshima and Nagasaki" launched in February 1985. In those days, when many still believed in nuclear arms control, rather than nuclear disarmament, we boldly called for a total ban and the elimination of nuclear weapons, by building up the public opinion. For 15 years since then, over 60 million peoples signed it and some 2,500 local governments, i.e., about 80% of all Japanese local governments, declared themselves nuclear weapon-free. Your CND is one of the 12 organizations that launched the appeal. In summer last year, we launched a new campaign entitled "Abolition of nuclear weapons, now!" I take the liberty to express our gratitude to Kate Hudson for appending her name as a first signer.

At present, our first priority is to press the governments of the Nuclear Five to fulfill their obligation to abolish their nuclear arsenals, which they promised at the last NPT review conference in May 2000. The next NPT Review Conference, scheduled for May next year in New York, should not be a mere place where they repeat the same "undertaking" or, worse, bury their promise. The nuclear weapons states, however, do not show any sign to honor their promise. The Bush Administration is even challenging to give a prominent role to its nuclear arsenals in its notorious strategy of "preemptive attack". The imperative for him is to render nuclear weapons usable by removing the boundary between conventional and nuclear weapons. At the 3rd Prep. Com. meeting for the next Review Conference, the US refused to even refer to any positive agreement reached by the last Review Conference, and made it impossible to reach any further agreement. John R Bolton, assistant Secretary of State, or better known as a neo-con leader, who led the US delegation, demanded that the NPT's task was to take action against such countries as Iran and North Korea, and "not focusing on article VI issues that do not exist".

True, the nuclear development by North Korea, the uranium enrichment in South Korea and other similar moves are a serious concern. But our major problem is those thousands of nuclear weapons that already exist and are ready for actual use. Though the proliferation problem needs to be addressed, the nuclear double standard, like, "your nukes are a threat to the national security, while our nukes are a guarantee of the security", cannot help to resolve the problem. For both the security of all counties and the prevention of the proliferation, the swift implementation of their own promise is the only right answer.

The 2004 World Conference against A and H Bombs in August focused on action we should take to make a difference in the next review conference and beyond, towards the 60th year of the A-bombing. Government representatives of Mexico, a leading member of New Agenda Coalition (NAC), Malaysia, the current chair of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and an assistant foreign minister of Egypt took active part in the discussion throughout the 8 days conference.

The recommended actions agreed upon include: Support and mobilization for the initiative of the Mayors for Peace, particularly for a major international action in New York on May 1, next year; pressing all governments to support NAC-sponsored and NAM-sponsored resolutions in favor of the abolition of nuclear weapons in the 59th Session of the UN General Assembly; urging such governments that rely their security on a "nuclear umbrella" provided by a nuclear weapons state to step out of it and join in the global effort for a nuclear weapon-free world. The conference also called for a joint presentation of tens of millions of signatures in support of the appeal "Abolition, now" or any other call with a similar goal to the Review Conference on its first day of May 2, 2005. The government representatives discussed with their initiatives: Mexican Ambassador de Alba informed us that NAC would work to build the maximum support for the NAC resolution. He further announced that his government would convene an international conference of nuclear free zone countries in Mexico in Spring next year to mount pressure on the nuclear weapons states. The Egyptian minister told us that he would start groundwork to start negotiations for a total ban at the ministerial conference of NAM on August 17-19, this year.

Now that the number of the governments that voted against the total abolition at the UN General Assembly in December last year was six and that the governments that opposed the reduction of non-strategic nuclear weapons were only four, the key is to change the policy of these four or six governments and their allies. For this, we must make every effort to build mounting opinion and take action as we did in opposition to the war on Iraq, this time to secure the survival of the human race.

The abolition of nuclear weapons requires from the Japanese peace movement a special effort to change the policy of our government. Suffering twice the A-bombings, Japan declares in the Constitution that it renounces forever the use of force as means to resolve international conflict, and the "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained." The Japanese leaders have forgotten this. They throw their heart and soul into submission to the Bush Administration, wanting their status to be elevated as an "equal" Neo-Con partner.

The US leaders have sought for a long time to keep Japan as its junior partner and use its territory as a forward base in their world strategy. Yet, the current move goes beyond this realm. It is to draw Japan into a direct military action of aggression in US-initiated "preemptive" war, which includes the danger of actual use of nuclear weapons. To make Japan a country that will fight a war, they are eager to revise the Constitution without "wasting" anymore time. Not only the conservative Liberal Democrats and Komeito, but the Democratic Party also speaks of "creating a new constitution".

The blueprint of this was drawn by Richard Armitage, the present deputy secretary of state, and his cohorts, including Paul Wolfowitz, as early as in October 2000. Their paper, entitled "The United States and Japan - Advancing toward a Mature Partnership", urged Japan to accept the notion of "collective self-defense" and go to war with its "partner". It further called for the revision of the Constitution, enactment of the so-called "contingency" law, and even what they call "reform that would require a pain" from people. They said, the model of the new partnership was the "special relationship between the USA and Great Britain", totally forgetting that in that model, their partner was being seriously challenged by the peace movement.

Japanese conservative leaders happily accommodate themselves to these demands. Shinzo Abe, the secretary general of the Liberal Democrats, made a speech at the Neo-Con think-tank American Enterprise Institute on April 29 this year. He blatantly expressed his condolence to the US soldiers in Iraq at the time the whole world was denouncing the massacres in Farujya. His major point was that the equal partnership between the US and Japan in fighting war was an ideal from the earliest days, for which even among conservatives only a few took the bold path. Then, he quoted the names of two former prime ministers, Nobusuke Kishi, his grandfather, and Yasuhiro Nakasone. Note that both of them were first-class war criminals imprisoned by the occupation forces and brought back by the same occupation forces to the politics. Abe showed hostility to Article 9, saying it is a "classic example of an anachronism". Then he concludes that the "considerable losses by groups advocating protection of the current Constitution in the general election in November last year" made it possible to bring the revision of the Constitution to a "real and present issue".

A rise of such an opinion as: "Japan's acquisition of nuclear weapons is one possible option to be considered in the future" is by and large a spontaneous reaction to the nuclear development of North Korea, though fanned by the "new threat" propaganda. The LDP is exploiting this to scrap Japan's three non-nuclear principles of "not possessing, not manufacturing and not allowing the bringing-in of nuclear weapons", to make it easier the US forces to engage in their nuclear mission.

Having said this, I should make one thing very clear. In spite of all this, most politicians, even many conservatives are still hesitant to openly advocate the revision of Article 9. They, too, are aware that still a majority of people stand in favor of the current Constitution, and where article 9 comes in, every poll shows over 60% support it. It may be their chance, but it can be turned to our chance, if the peace movement succeeds in uniting to bloc the militarism.

Before concluding, I want to emphasize one simple fact. Where peace and war are concerned, we are overwhelming majority. On the eve of the attack on Iraq, Collin Powel listed 30 countries that supported the planned attack. The list was impressive. Fifteen were from former Soviet block, no county from the Arab world, and only four in the whole Asia and the Pacific, including Afghanistan. So I realized that they were a poor minority equipped with no reason or no justice on their side.
Where nuclear weapons are concerned, this contrast is more striking. The six governments who opposed the NAC resolution last December were the US, the UK, France, India, Pakistan and Israel. Even the majority of NATO members did not take common step with the US. Canada even voted in support of the resolution.
Where our Constitution is concerned, those who openly advocate for scrapping Article 9 are very far from being the majority.

Through experiences in the 20th century, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we have come to understand that war can no longer be the answer to international conflict, that nuclear weapons exist only to be abolished. Yet this simple fact can be understood by the majority citizens, only when the peace movements work very hard. And I believe now is the time when we work very hard. Many thanks for your patient attention. /end




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