World Conference against A & H Bombs
Yasui Masakazu, Secretary General, Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo)
2015 World Conference against A and H Bombs
Japan Council against A and H Bombs (GENSUIKYO)
To Achieve a Nuclear Weapon-Free World
First of all, I would like to extend my warmest welcome to all the delegates joining the World Conference against A and H Bombs as we commemorate the 70th year since the atomic bombing.
Also, I want to say THANK YOU again to our friends in the United States and from around the world, who prepared and took actions together in the Peace and Planet Conference, marches, rallies and the presentation of petitions to the NPT Review Conference last April in New York.
This year’s World Conference is being held as part of all the great efforts waged both at the international political level and at the grassroots levels, trying to make this 70th anniversary a decisive turning point to achieve a “nuclear weapon-free world”.
In Japan, even at this very moment, people all around the country are struggling to stop the war legislation, which would scrap the Constitution of Japan. People of all walks of life and all strata are raising their voices in opposition. They are surrounding the Prime Minister’s Office and the Diet building and staging numerous protests in the form of rallies, marches and other actions on the street.
For the last 70 years, Japan has not killed a single soldier of other countries, nor had any members of Japan’s Self Defense Forces killed in international conflicts. No doubt, this was thanks to Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan. The point of origin of Article 9 was the experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. People’s strong desire for peace and nuclear weapons abolition is expressed in the unprecedented support for the nationwide Peace Marches, now walking towards Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Everywhere around the country, a larger number of people, about 100,000 in total, are joining the marches and young marchers are leading the way. These marches, following different courses, will come together to reach Hiroshima Peace Park in two days from now.
During these years, we in Gensuikyo have worked to build powerful opinion within civil society for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In this we have been encouraged by the international agreement to “achieve a world without nuclear weapons”. Gensuikyo sent a large delegation of 1,058 members to New York to join the actions associated with the NPT Review, and to deliver the voices of people of the A-bombed country to the international political arena.
Unfortunately, the recent NPT Review Conference failed to reach any agreement to take the next step toward a nuclear weapon-free world. But we witnessed significant changes taking place during the conference.
Concerned about the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and in order to prevent the recurrence of a nuclear catastrophe, 159 countries, or over 80% of the States Parties to the NPT, issued a joint statement proposing to stigmatize, ban and eliminate nuclear weapons as the next step forward. They are determined to enhance the consensus for abolition, rally the will of the majority, and start a practical process to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons.
This current is supported by civil society and has now become irreversible, despite the resistance of the nuclear-armed states.
Recent developments in the world are backing this current. The “Final Agreement” on Iran’s nuclear program and the restoration of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba show that today’s international problems can find solutions based on the principle of peaceful resolution of conflicts, as stipulated in the U.N. Charter, and from the standpoint of abolition of nuclear weapons. Threats and rivalries involving nuclear weapons have only worsened international problems.
We believe that our movement seeking a total ban on and the elimination of nuclear weapons is playing an important role to encourage the recent world current for peace, to encourage movements working to secure the survival of humanity and civilization, and to broaden the common foundation for future efforts.
Now, I want to share with you my determination to develop future actions.
The first thing is to broaden joint activities to share the lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki among all people in order to make known the A-bomb damage and aftereffects to ordinary people throughout the world and also at the international political arena, and to prevent the tragedy from being repeated ever again. This includes creating opportunities for people to listen directly to testimonies of the Hibakusha, making use of films, theaters, audio recordings, books produced in the last 70 years, and other new means. It is especially important to attract young people, so as to lay a broad base of public opinion in favor of a total ban on nuclear weapons. These efforts are especially important in the countries possessing or dependent on nuclear weapons, in countries in military alliances under the nuclear umbrella of nuclear weapon states, and in countries afflicted with conflicts.
Secondly, in the wake of the NPT Review Conference, we want to develop and bring our signature campaign to a higher stage -- a campaign more attractive with straightforward and clear-cut demands -- and start discussing it in this World Conference.
Ever since the preparatory process of the First World Conference against A and H Bombs in 1955, we have attached great importance to the signature collection campaign. The signature campaign will not only put pressure on those clinging to nuclear weapons, but also help each and every citizen of the world realize their own role in securing their own future, and the future of the entire human race.
Ambassador Taus Feroukhi of the NPT Review Conference said, “Disarmament is not an activity exclusively limited to States” and “Petitions give each citizen a personal role to play in this larger process of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.”
In conclusion I want to emphasize the role of Japan among all these efforts made internationally. We must make every effort to make Japan play its due role, as the country which experienced the A-bomb, to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons and to achieve peace. So definitely we will NOT allow Japan to be turned into a country that wages war. We oppose the war bills now being debated in the Diet. I want to close by renewing my commitment to make every effort to make Japan independent from nuclear weapons, to defend our Constitution and peace, and to create broad-based public support for a total ban on nuclear weapons. The Japanese Movement against A and H Bombs will play its role. Thank you.