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SpeecheA Nuclear Weapon-free World, Peace and Cooperation in North East Asia and Our Movement against A and H Bombs
Northeast Asia Civil Society Peace Forum on “Maintaining Northeast Asian Peace and Stability, Promoting Multi-lateral Cooperation and Common Development” - Sept. 24, 2011, Dalian, China

Masakazu Yasui
Secretary General, Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo)

Dear friends,

Thank you for the invitation to the event commemorating the 2011 International Day of Peace and to this forum on “Maintaining Northeast Asian Peace and Stability, Promoting Multi-lateral Cooperation and Common Development”, as well as the opportunity to speak before you.  Let me take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to you for your warm support and solidarity to the people who suffered from the huge earthquake and tsunami that hit the eastern part of Japan on March 11 this year and the subsequent, continuing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The Japan Council against A and H Bombs, which I represent, was founded on September 19, 1955, following the first World Conference against A and H Bombs in August the same year.  The background was the mounting nationwide protests against the damage from the hydrogen bomb test, which the US conducted on March 1, 1954 at the Bikini Atoll in the central Pacific.  More than 32 million signatures then collected in demanding a ban on nuclear weapons represented a strong desire of the whole Japanese people for peace and against nuclear weapons.  Since the founding, we, Gensuikyo, have developed many forms of actions to reach the three basic goals of 1) the prevention of nuclear war, 2) a ban on and the elimination of nuclear weapons, and 3) the relief and solidarity with the Hibakusha, the A-bomb sufferers, including the annual World Conference against A and H Bombs in every August, constant and nationwide signature campaigns for a ban on nuclear weapons, events and actions in cooperation with the Hibakusha to make known the damage and health effects of the A-bombings to general public.

As early as in 1955, when there was no diplomatic relations between Japan and China, the Chinese peace movement expressed its support of the first World Conference against A and H Bombs by showing the readiness to actively participate in it in forming a high level delegation.  Since 1999, the Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament (CPAPD) has sent a delegation to our Conference in every summer.  This past August, too, we received a 7-member delegation headed by Deputy Secretary General Chen Duming and including representatives from Liaoning Province. I take the liberty of expressing our appreciation for their contribution to the success of the Conference.

Now, more than 66 years since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we have a new opportunity before us to open a road to our common goal: a nuclear weapon-free, peaceful and just world. On May 1 last year, on the eve of the opening of the 2010 NPT Review Conference in New York, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appeared before us, people assembled from many countries, and said, “What I see on the horizon is a world free of nuclear weapons”.  He thus encouraged the peace movement to continue its important work.

The 2010 NPT Review Conference itself agreed that “to achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” was a goal and principle, and that all states need to make "special effort" to establish the “necessary framework” to achieve the goal. It further noted as part of the action plan to the proposal of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the need for a convention banning nuclear weapons.

We also pay attention to the outcome of the adoption of the series of nuclear disarmament-related resolutions by the UN General Assembly in December last year. The resolution moved by the New Agenda Coalition calling for full implementation of the agreements of the past NPT Review Conferences got 173 votes in favor as against 5 votes in opposition.  What we noted most was the vote result of the resolution moved by Malaysia as a lead sponsor, which called for the start of negotiations leading to a Nuclear Weapons Convention. The four nuclear weapons states of the US, the UK, France and Russia voted against it, but China did in favor. Of the non-NPT parties, India, Pakistan and even North Korea voted in favor. In addition, 184 states of all 189 parties to NPT are placing themselves under the obligation of NPT’s Article 2 as “non-nuclear weapons states”, pledging that they neither develop nor acquire nuclear weapons. This proves that if only a handful nuclear weapons states take a decision, the start of negotiations on a total ban on nuclear weapons will be very much possible.

On February 15 this year, we issued an “Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons”, and started a new signature campaign in support of this appeal. The campaign obtained support from extensive range of people in Japan and overseas, including the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.  The aim is to mobilize public opinion in support of the ongoing sincere efforts being promoted in international politics for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  I should like to invite you all to examine if you can support and join us in developing this campaign. 

In promoting a nuclear weapon-free world, as well as peace in Northeast Asia, the Japanese Government has a special responsibility and role to play as a government of both the only country that experienced the calamity of nuclear attacks and the country that makes the resolution of international conflicts by peaceful means and the renunciation of war potentials and the belligerency as Constitutional principles, based on the serious reflection of its past war of aggression against Asian countries.

At the Summit of the UN Security Council on September 24, 2009, the then Prime Minister of Japan, Yukio Hatoyama, recalling the damage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, renewed Japan's commitment to the Three Non-nuclear Principles of not possessing, not manufacturing and not allowing the bringing-in of nuclear weapons, and declared that Japan would "take the lead in the pursuit of the elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Nevertheless, the Democrats-led government, which replaced the Liberal Democrats and Komei Party government, is reluctant to support the proposed start of negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention, and has kept refusing to call off the series of secret agreements with the US on allowing the port-calls of the nuclear weapon-carrying US warships.  Underlying this is Japan’s deep dependency on the military alliance with the US, including and among others on the US “nuclear umbrella”.

The 21st century, however, should no longer be time where the world relies in its security on force or military alliance or on the threat of nuclear weapons.  With the increase of the weight of Asia in the world politics and economy, there are arguments on both sides of the Pacific that Japan and the US should cope with this development by deepening their military alliance. The assertion of this kind goes against the times and reasons.  On the contrary, because the weight of Asia is increasing, the effort for peace, cooperation, mutual understanding and for the peaceful resolution of international conflicts is all the more important.

As seen in the activities of the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone or of ASEAN’s Regional Forum, East Asia has seen rich initiatives of the states in and around the region to develop dialog and cooperation to prevent or resolve conflicts through talks.  In solidarity with all positive initiatives that promote denuclearization and peace in Asia and the rest of the world, we are urging the Japanese Government to join in this development.  In this regard, too, we urge the Japanese government to take the initiative in pursuing a treaty banning all nuclear weapons, and as a token of its sincerity, we demand that the government denounce the secret nuclear agreements with the US, move out of the “nuclear umbrella” and declare that Japan is a nuclear weapon-free country.

We call on North Korea to abandon its nuclear development, and all parties concerned to pursue and achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through the framework of the six party talks.  The Japanese Government has responded to North Korea’s nuclear and missile development by building up the “Missile Defense” network, the Japan-US joint operations and the reinforcement of the US military bases in Japan. In the light of the past record of repeated aggression against Asian countries, however, Japan should concentrate on diplomatic effort to resolve problems it faces, in pursuit of deepening cooperation with Asian countries.

Before concluding, I want to add one more thing. Having experienced the disastrous damage caused by the huge earthquake, tsunami and the subsequent nuclear crisis of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, we, as the movement that traces its origin to the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are renewing our determination to develop solidarity with all movements in Japan and overseas in common pursuit of not allowing any more suffering of the people from radiation, decommissioning of nuclear power plants and switching energy source to sustainable energies.  As seen in the disastrous outcome of the Fukushima accident, the humans do not know how to prevent the spread of contamination of radioactivity or to detoxify the radioactivity, should a severe accident breaks out. 

I conclude my speech by expressing my hope that the cooperation between NGOs acting in and around Northeast Asia will further develop in getting rid of nuclear weapons, peace, protecting life and living of the working people, as well as protecting environment based on sustainable energy.