SpeecheOpening a Door of a Nuclear Weapon-free World by Building Grassroots Action Worldwide
Hiroshi Taka, Secretary General, Japan Council against A and H Bombs
IPB Nobel Centenary Conference “A Climate of Peace”
Sept. 23-26, 2010 Oslo
Session on Nuclear Disarmament
Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you on this historic Nobel Centenary Conference of the IPB. I take the liberty of expressing my deep respect to the IPB presidents of the past and present, as well as the other friends present here, who have long supported both organization and movement of the IPB. My thanks also go to Norwegian friends who prepared this conference.
The theme of this session, “Nuclear Disarmament” has always been the key to the whole IPB’s activity. Back in 1977, at the time when the world yet did not know that hundreds of thousands Hibakusha, the A-bomb sufferers, were still in agony, both mentally and physically, the IPB took the lead in organizing with us an international symposium on the damage and after-effects of the A-bombings. It revealed the very inhuman nature of the nuclear weapons, and sent a warning to the whole world that the humans had to struggle to abolish nuclear weapons for our own survival. Sean McBride, the then president of the IPB and the Special NGO Committee for Disarmament, initiated international campaign for the “Illegality of Nuclear Weapons”. It was a pioneering effort that has led to the present worldwide campaign for a nuclear weapon convention.
The NPT Review Conference in May this year marked a number of important developments in favor of a nuclear weapon-free world. The final document confirmed it a primary goal and principle to “achieve peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”. Further, it called on all states to make “special efforts” to create a framework to achieve and maintain a nuclear weapon-free world, noting the need for negotiations on a nuclear weapon convention. It also agreed on the convening of an international conference on Middle East WMD-free zone in 2012 and a number of other disarmament measures as obligation for the Nuclear Weapons States. This clearly illustrate a change in the political and public perception of NPT over 40 years from the framework of nuclear weapon monopoly to that of eliminating nuclear weapons.
The NPT RevCon, however, failed to reach agreement on timeline, means and roadmap to reach the agreed goal of “a world without nuclear weapons”. Why? The reason is apparently because nuclear powers and some of their allies still find positive role in nuclear arsenals.
A “world without nuclear weapons” and “nuclear deterrence” are incompatible with each other. A “nuclear weapon-free world” can be attained only when the nuclear powers and those who rely on their “nuclear umbrella” make a decision that they get over their reliance on nuclear weapons.
As a next step we take after the 2010 NPT Review Conference, I want to suggest that we urge all governments to build up unanimous agreement on the need to ban on nuclear weapons particularly in the UN General Assembly, without waiting for the next NPT RevCon. Of 190 parties to NPT, 184 states are actually prohibiting themselves to develop or possess nuclear weapons by accepting Article 2. In addition, such countries as China, India, Pakistan, and even North Korea are voting for the resolution calling for the start of negotiations leading to the total elimination already for some years. If only a handful of nuclear powers make a decision, banning nuclear weapons is possible even right now.
Second, the first ten years of the 21st century again demonstrated that the main actors in the drive toward a nuclear weapon-free, peaceful and just world are grassroots people and their movements who endeavor to reach this goal. The development marked in the NPT RevCon became possible because of the massive mobilization of people worldwide in opposition to war on Iraq, followed by political change in the US and many other countries that forced the invasion. The IPB played a key role in preparing the New York NPT-related actions in May this year, by organizing an annual council meeting in November last year in Washington D.C. That enabled many organizations in the world to join in the US peace movement in coordinating and planning actions.
We responded to that effort. Some 1,800 Japanese, including about 100 Hibakusha went to New York in May this year to fulfill responsibility of the peace movement of the only A-bombed country. Some 1,600 people are from Gensuikyo, who brought with them 6 million and 900 thousands signatures that demanded the start of negotiations for a treaty banning and eliminating all nuclear weapons. They all went there on the basis of their own decision, using their own time, money and labor. They inherited, thus, the tradition of anti-nuclear action in the early 1980s, when millions of people went streets to oppose the preparation of nuclear war. I suggest that the IPB will keep playing this kind of initiative, as it is a unique organization that rally experiences, wisdom and grassroots efforts for the abolition of nuclear weapons everywhere in the world.
Third, I want to join my colleague Terumi Tanaka in calling on you to keep spreading messages of the Hibakusha with their tragic experiences. On Aug. 6 this year in Hiroshima, Setsuko Thurlow, a woman of Hiroshima living in Canada, spoke.
She lost many family members. She lost her uncle and ant. They were burned and spent some days in agony. According to her expression, they died like they were decaying, melting, with liquid flowing out from both inside and on surface. Burnt black, with their gene destroyed, their bodies did not have the ability to recover. Literally many citizens died like them. I want to ask those who defend nukes as “deterrence”. If it is for deterrence, is it allowed to cause such a inhumanly death? If it is allowed, then, is it allowed to cause it to 10 people, or 100 people, or 1000 people, or 10,000 people, or 140,000 people like Hiroshima ?
In December 15 years ago, many of us were in Oslo to attend to celebrate Dr. Joseph Rotblat for Nobel Peace Prize. He made a historic speech to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The title of his speech was, “Remember Humanity”. To fulfill this goal, let us continue our challenge for a nuclear weapon-free world towards the next NPT Review Conference.