Bikini DayLet Us Open the Door to a Nuclear Weapon-Free World by Force of Signatures
2012 Bikini Day Conference - International Forum
Feb. 28, 2012 at Shizuoka
Yayoi Tsuchida, Assistant General Secretary
The Bikini Day conference last year became a place where we started a new signature campaign in support of the “Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons” nationwide, one which we had launched on Feb. 15, with support from wide-ranging people, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. For over one year, we did our very best. No sooner did we start the campaign than Japan was inflicted with heavy earthquake, tsunami and the highest level of nuclear crisis at Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant. Public focus quickly shifted away from nuclear disarmament. We did rise up immediately in action to organize support of victims in Fukushima and other affected places as well as to call for an end to the reliance on nuclear power. Nevertheless, as Joe Garson pointed out, we did not ease up our effort to collect signatures for the new Appeal. People in Fukushima and neighboring prefectures were among the first to keep this effort organizing annual peace marches. People everywhere in Japan visited local governments, fisheries’ coops and many different organizations to ask for their support. As the result, the number of the signatures collected reached 1,029,031, including of 766 mayors, representing some 44% of the Japanese local governments, which we submitted to the First Committee of the UN General Assembly last year. This is a formidable achievement.
Through these practices of about one year, I believe Gensuikyo broke new ground. We learned deeper that as movement of the country that suffered Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and again Fukushima, we must send out voices and experiences of those who suffered; that we must appeal to the urgency and importance of the abolition of nuclear weapons; and that we should keep standing in the van for a total ban and the elimination of nuclear weapons. This is the role we should undertake and fulfill.
As Mr. Ban Ki-moon says, we now live in a time when abolishing nuclear weapons is possible. In October last year, we visited the UN headquarters. There, I witnessed firsthand many countries of Non-Aligned Movement, New Agenda Coalition and other groups take offensive for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The understanding that a binding treaty is the only way to totally abolish nuclear weapons was also widespread.
This momentum is being built and consolidated into irreversible development leading to a nuclear weapon-free world on the agreement reached by the 2010 NPT Review Conference. It made it a goal to achieve a world without nuclear weapons, and made it obligation for all governments to make “special effort” to establish a “framework” to reach this goal. Despite various resistance by nuclear powers, this was after all accepted by all. As they once accepted, they should act to honor them. We must increase pressure on them so that they will set about their “special effort” by starting negotiations for a convention banning all nuclear weapons.
With this point in focus, the new cycle of the NPT review process leading to the 2015 Conference will start on coming April 30. We must turn this cycle into a process through which the agreement will be implemented and all nuclear arsenal eliminated. As a concrete action, Gensuikyo has drawn a plan to host an A-bomb photo-panel exhibition in Vienna, the venue of the next NPT Preparatory Committee on April 30 and thereafter, as well as in all 47 prefectures in Japan, and in conjunction with it, we will challenge a signature campaign everywhere in Japan, each making it a goal to get local government and local people to join the campaign. Let us encircle the NPT PrepCom with overwhelming voices and actions of citizens.
I have already circulated this plan to international NGOs. The plan called attention from people in Vienna and other cities in Europe, and is helping to build up momentum. The International Peace Bureau, in which Gensuikyo is an active member, has decided that it would cohost the exhibition in Vienna with us, and that it will soon issue a statement inviting other members and friends to join in this effort. The European Chapter of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and the European Youth Project for Nuclear Disarmament have sent us their support, saying that they share the spirit and want to generate a change. In response to our call, Indian friends, too, are planning to host A-bomb photo exhibitions and run a signature drive in many places in their country.
This initiative has one more important role. That is to press the Japanese Government to play its own role as the only A-bombed country in achieving a ban on nuclear weapons. In response to our proposal, Nagasaki Gensuikyo visited Mayor Taue of Nagasaki City to ask for his support of the signature campaign and the A-bomb photo exhibition. Maybe our friends from Nagasaki will give more detailed information to this forum later. Yet one point I want to make here is that the mayor agreed that the present review cycle of the NPT should be made the final phase. From the viewpoint of Mayors for Peace to accomplish the goal by 2020, he said, such tempo as achieving a ban in 2015 is prerequisite. Then, he further said that the “idea of hosting A-bomb photo exhibition throughout the country is wonderful”, and that “we need more than cooperation, we will work together”. As Mayors for Peace has 1101 member cities in Japan, this experience suggests that the development of the signature campaign with the whole of the local community involved is possible everywhere in the country.
The Japanese Government, too, says that it will stand in the forefront in the effort to lead to a nuclear weapon-free world. Yet, making the maximum use of outside “threat”, such as nuclear development of North Korea, it has tried to justify the policy of “nuclear umbrella” provided by the US. As the US is shifting its weight to prevail in the Asia-Pacific region, and the Japanese Government accommodates to this move, as seen in its position on the Futenma Base in Okinawa or on the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, sometimes, it looks as if the force of backflow of history had a momentum. Yet, the critical view against Japan’s dependence on “nuclear umbrella” is spreading much, much wider in the public opinion. We feel it almost every day through our contacts with citizens and local governments in the signature campaign. Facing pressure from the movement and the public support for it, the government had to agree on the importance to honor the agreement of the 2010 NPT Review conference, and admit the need for a treaty to ban on nuclear weapons “at some point in the final phase”. Our signature campaign is an effective means to further build up public support for a total ban, and thus pressing the government to work for it.
In this year when the next NPT review cycle starts, we must get our movement much broader and stronger. We live in an era where people can make a change through their own action. Accepting our signatures, Mr. Sergio Duarte, UN High Representative on Disarmament Affairs, said that the wave of democratic revolution is reaching the work of nuclear disarmament, and that the 7 million signatures submitted by Gensuikyo to the NPT Review Conference was an evidence. Together with the signatures submitted by Mayors for Peace, our signatures were placed in twin towers, which stand at the entrance of the main hall of the UN General Assembly. Next occasion of the presentation of the signatures will be at the NPT PrepCom in Vienna. Let us start the work quickly. By building high waves of action, let us open a door of a world free of nuclear weapons.