World Conference against A & H Bombs
Lee Taeho, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, ROK
2015 World Conference against A and H Bombs
Secretary General of People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, South Korea.
Hello! It is very nice to meet you!
My name is Taeho Lee, the secretary general of People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy from South Korea.
I would like to thank the organizing committee for inviting me to the2015 World Conference against A and H Bombs and giving me an opportunity to give a speech.
First, I would like to ask all of you to remember those who lost their lives by the nuclear bombs dropped here in Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 years ago. My heart also goes to many hibakushas who are still in pain.
And I would like to say heartfelt hello on behalf of the Koreans who agree with all of you gathered here today to create a world without nuclear weapon, and even further, a world safe from all kinds of nuclear disaster.
The world clearly witnessed the cruel and inhumane nature of nuclear weapons through the bombs dropped here in Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 years ago. This weapon of mass destruction is against the humanity, and the voice of mankind that claims for the permanent disappearance of this weapon is growing louder than ever.
In last May, the interest of international community for illegalizing and abolishing nuclear weapon was materialized into the Statement on Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapon before the 2015 NPT Review Conference. However, despite the global interest in abolishing nuclear weapon, the 2015 NPT Review Conference failed to reach any consensus agreement on the action plan after the conference.
Although the will of global citizens and most non-nuclear countries for abolition of nuclear weapon is growing, the anachronistic militarism obsessed with the nuclear deterrence still remains strong. As the nuclear powers keep delaying acting on their promises of reducing nuclear weapon, the possibility of nuclear proliferation and the threat of using nuclear weapon are gradually growing. The non-cooperation and double standards of some nuclear umbrella dependent governments are also the big stumbling block. Unfortunately, the governments of South Korea, my home country, and Japan, the host nation of today’s meeting, have chosen the military strategy that depends on the nuclear deterrence and joined the ranks of stumbling block to the world without nuclear weapon.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I said the same thing here last year, and I say it again today – it is a huge irony that the government of Japan, the government of a country that has become the first ever nuclear-bombed country, is obsessed with the nuclear umbrella. It is just as ironical for the government of South Korea, the government of a country with the stigma of some one hundred thousand of its people who were conscripted by the Japanese government during the colonization having been exposed to radiation when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed, is mimicking the mistake that the government of Japan is committing.
Many South Koreans and Japanese say that they need the nuclear umbrella, because North Korea developed nuclear weapon and missile. They do have a point. However, since the Cold War, long before North Korea developed the nuclear capacity, South Korea and Japan have been depending on the nuclear umbrella. The North Korean nuclear weapon is a dilemma created by the double standards of Northeast Asian countries toward nuclear weapon. Every Northeast Asian countries, where we belong, are obsessed with military strategy that depends on nuclear deterrence. The U.S., Russia, China, Japan, North Korea and South Korea… All of them are depending on nuclear deterrence.
But there is an exception. Mongolia, surrounded by the nuclear powers, independently declared that it is a nuclear-free zone and won the official recognition by the U.N. The government and people of Mongolia chose to maintain friendly and cooperative relationships with all of its neighbors, instead of signing military alliance agreements with some countries or expanding its armament. Mongolia chose to maintain peace through a peaceful way. The case of Mongolia is a good example of removing the nuclear threat from the East Asia.
The Japan’s Peace Constitution is also one of the strongest methods and recourses that can assure peace in the East Asia and the Pacific, if it remains completely effective. The Peace Constitution is the promise of Japanese people to the international community and the safeguard that the dark histories of the World Wars and imperial invasion will never be repeated.
The history of Peace Constitution mirrors the 70-year long light and shade of post-war politics in the East Asia. As you may be aware, while Germany had been separated after the World War II in Europe, the Korean Peninsula has been separated East Asia. The world had to pay the cost of separated Korean peninsula for the safeguard for East Asia called the Peace Constitution. Thereafter, the Korean Peninsula fell into the civil war while the U.S. and Japan strengthened their military alliance by entering into the San Francisco Peace Treaty. The San Francisco Peace Treaty, where the Peace Constitution and military alliance awkwardly coexist, is inseparably related to the armistice system in Korean Peninsula that relies on military alliance.
Meanwhile, the Abe Administration is now claiming that Japan must ‘overcome the post-war period’ and become a ‘normal’ state that can start a war. The Abe Administration must be thinking that ‘overcoming the post-war period’ is achieved by denying the country’s past. The Abe Administration is trying to practically abolish the Article 9 of Peace Constitution, the safety pin of peace in East Asia, in the name of ‘re-interpretation.’ The Abe Administration is trying to allow Japanese military forces (self-defense force) to engage in the war, together with the U.S., anywhere in the world, in the name of ‘collective self-defense.’
I believe that Japan can truly 'overcome the post-war period’ only by fully admitting the stain in her history and completely removing the legacy of militarism, not simply turning a blind eye to her history. The most meaningful contribution Japan could make for the peace and prosperity in the East Asia would be improving the incomplete Peace Constitution into a complete one and turning into the exemplary peace-loving nation that does not rely on the nuclear umbrella or military alliance, instead of turning into the war-capable nation.
Fortunately, many Japanese people decided to disapprove the Abe Administration’s legislating the security-related laws, and to protect the Peace Constitution. I thank the Japanese people for their fight and give my full support. Not only Japan under the Abe Administration, but also all nations in the world shall not adopt militarism to solve any problem. Every nation must adopt the Peace Constitution as their constitutions. The people of South Korea will stand in solidarity with the world to march toward the true democracy and peace!
Another unique item in the post-war politics in East Asia is the Korean Peninsula still under armistice system. Ending the armistice system on the Korean Peninsula and moving on to the peace system is one of the most important tasks in overcoming the distorted post-war politics in the East Asia. The separated Korean Peninsula is one of the world’s most dangerous places where the largest armament can be found, as well as the largest military exercises are conducted every year. The peaceful Korean Peninsula, once achieved, can become one of the strongest elements of peace in the East Asia, together with the Peace Constitution of Japan. This is why the social movements aimed at preserving the Peace Constitution and at signing a peace treaty on the Korean Peninsula must closely work together.
Peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue is directly related to the peace on the Korean Peninsula, because the North Korean nuclear issue is created by the nuclear armament race in the Northeast Asia and by the unstable state of armistice in the region. Even if South Korea and neighboring countries theoretically strengthen its dependence on the nuclear umbrella and adopt the missile defense system, it cannot be a practical solution to the problem. Rather, it will trigger another armament race for greater nuclear deterrence, exposing the people in the region and the world to a greater nuclear threat.
Thus, reconvening dialogues without condition and rebuilding trust are absolutely necessary. The U.S., South Korea and Japan who have the upper hands in terms of military and economy should take an active role first. We must open the doors to dialogue, by making comprehensive and preemptive peace proposals to North Korea, which includes improving relations, signing a peace treaty, Negative Security Assurance, and restriction of military threat, etc. And other nations including South Korea must give up their military strategy of depending on nuclear weapon. This is why the issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula must be linked to the establishment Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in Korea and/or in Northeast Asia.
The recent emergence of territorial conflict and hegemonic race, together with the Korean Peninsula under armistice system trigger the nuclear armament race in East Asia. The Asia-Pacific region that once was the target of colonization by the West has now become the center of global economy. However, the deeper economic inter-dependence has become, the deeper the military tension and conflict have become.
The territorial dispute in East Asia is a sensitive issue resulted from the historic disasters that took place not so long ago. The outposts being built in the disputed seas in the East Asia, and the provocative military exercises conducted around such military bases and nuclear /missile armament races are likely to aggravate the conflicts that could have been diplomatically and peacefully solved, and turn the situation into a consumptive armament race and military conflict.
What is missing in the East Asia region is not the means of war, such as the outposts, artificial islands, AEGIS battleships, aircrafts, or submarines. Those most dearly wanted are the will of governments all aimed at peacefully solving the conflicts, cooperative framework for multilateral solution of disputes and capacity of civil society organizations that will materialize peace beyond borders.
Someone asked if the past of Europe would become the future of East Asia. The race for hegemony in Europe surrounding the Atlantic Seatriggered two world wars in the last 20th century. Japan, which adopted the industrial advancements of the West also joined the race for colonies in Asia during the same period. We must not allow the hegemonic race surrounding the Atlantic Sea in the 20thcentury to repeat itself in the Pacific in the 21st century.
I was at Gangjeong Village in Jeju Island, which locates southern part of South Korea until yesterday. Right after the South Korean government named Jeju Island as the island of world peace by its own initiative, it started to build a gigantic naval base in Gangjeong Village, large enough for two nuclear carrier ships and AEGIS battle ships can simultaneously call at the port. The people of Gangjeong Village and Jeju Island have fought for 3,000 days to prevent the island of world peace turning into the outpost of war under the military alliance between South Korea, the U.S. and Japan. The peace activists from Okinawa, Saipan(Tinian Island), the Philippines and Taiwan, who had been fighting to return their homelands into islands of peace, participated in the one-week long grand march and culture festival commemorating the 3,000 day of struggle against the naval base construction in Gangjeong Village.
I have a heartfelt respect for every one of those who are struggling to achieve true peace in the world, and I believe the world peace cannot be achieved by the nuclear umbrella or missile defense system. I have no doubt that the unrelenting efforts of those activists will createthe brighter and more peaceful East Asia and world.
Thank you for listening.
No more Hiroshima! No more Nagasaki!
No more Nuke! No more Nuclear Umbrella!
No more War! Let's give peace a chance!