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World Conference against A & H Bombs

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2015 World Conference against A and H Bombs
International Meeting - Organizer's Address

SAWADA Shoji

Chairperson

Organizing Committee

  

On behalf of the Organizing Committee, I would like to welcome and extend my heartfelt solidarity to all participants from abroad as well as from all over Japan at the 2015 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs.

The 2015 NPT Review Conference was held amid increasing shared understanding about the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and growing international opinion calling for an early start of negotiations, independent of security issues, for an international convention banning nuclear weapons.  Although the Conference failed to adopt an outcome document, it has become clearer than ever that the nuclear weapon states and their allies have lost rationale for resisting any ban on such weapons.

We welcome representatives of the United Nations and national governments that played a key role in the NPT Review Conference.  We also greet leaders of peace movements, grassroots activists, Hibakusha and other nuclear victims who have assumed a great role in bringing together different citizens’ campaigns, including the International Peace & Planet Conference held in New York ahead of the NPT Review Conference.  Many of the World Conference participants took active part in petition drives in their respective communities to collect signatures on the Appeal on the Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons and took these petitions with them to New York to present them to the United Nations and the Chairperson of the Review Conference.

 

Need for a convention to ban nuclear weapons is even more evident

Dear friends,

We know that the NPT Review Conference ended without adopting the final document because the U.S., Britain and Canada succumbed to pressure from Israel, which is not party to the Treaty, and refused to accept the proposal on convening a meeting about potentially developing a Middle East weapon of mass destruction free zone, even though it had been agreed upon at the previous NPT Review Conference.  In the Middle East, a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program has been reached after persevering with negotiations. Every year at the U.N. General Assembly, Iran has voted in favor of an early start of negotiations on a nuclear weapon convention. By contrast, Israel, which is regarded as possessing nuclear weapons, consistently opposes such a convention. It will be very significant to hold peaceful discussions at a forum that includes Israel, with a view to creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone. If we miss this proposal for a precious opportunity, we will jeopardize the reliability of the NPT itself.

The chairperson of the First Committee of the NPT Review Conference proposed a final document draft based on what had been discussed in the committee meeting. It included the draft of a comprehensive nuclear weapon convention and “a roadmap with a time frame to the elimination of nuclear weapons”.  However, it was rejected by nuclear weapon states and their allies, including Japan that relies on the nuclear umbrella.  They counterposed a “step by step” approach, but they were unable to deny the need for “legal provisions” and a “stand-alone legal instrument”.  In my view, the discussions of the NPT Review Conference laid the groundwork for future efforts at the UN General Assembly and other forums to get nuclear weapons eliminated.

From its preparatory stage, the 2015 NPT Review Conference was backed by growing discussions about the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.  People deepened their understanding that the use of nuclear weapons will have consequences that must not be condoned from a humanitarian point of view and that the total elimination of nuclear weapons is the only way to ensure their non-use. The concept of nuclear deterrence is premised on the possible use of such weapons. But, in the face of growing arguments about the atrocious nature of nuclear weapons, it has become difficult to argue that such weapons may be used.

 

Eliminate nuclear weapons to achieve a world of non-use of force

Friends,

In June 1945, when World War II was about to end, the Allies wrote the United Nations Charter, which included the principle that the use of force should be excluded from international disputes so that they should be resolved by every possible peaceful means through negotiations. There were expectations that Japan’s surrender would pave the way for creating a peaceful world in which international disputes are settled through negotiations and without the use of force. During the same period, however, the development of the atomic bomb was under way. American historians revealed from accumulated historical facts that the atomic bombing was carried out primarily to intimidate the Soviet Union. As a result of the atomic bombing, the Soviet Union, which was supposed to be intimidated, countered the US nuclear development by developing its own nuclear weapons. That was how the Cold War began, led by a nuclear arms race, and the UN Charter’s principle of non-use of force was neglected. Thus, the politics of nuclear blackmail persists today, 70 years after the end of WWII. 

This year marks the 70th anniversary of both the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the end of WWII.  The world should use this occasion to reaffirm the principles of the U.N. Charter and the First UN General Assembly Resolution and begin marching towards a total ban on nuclear weapons and peaceful resolution of international disputes.  Nuclear powers that hold the key positions in the U.N. Security Council have a particularly important role and responsibility in this regard.

 

 

Stop the “war legislation” by bringing success to 2015 World Conference

Friends,

At the NPT Review Conference the Abe administration betrayed the expectations of the people of Japan, the only A-bombed nation, by joining with nuclear weapon states in putting a stumbling block to concluding an international convention banning nuclear weapons.  At home, the same administration on July 16 railroaded “war bills” through the House of Representative in violation of the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution and sent them to the House of Councilors.  It extended the current session of the Diet until 27 September to recklessly get them enacted.

Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration and expressed remorse over its war of aggression. After the War, it established the Constitution, which applied the UN Charter’s principle of non-use of force to its Article 9.  It stands on the idea that Japan defends the security and peace of the nation by deepening mutual understanding with neighboring countries and building an international environment of peace.  It should be considered as one of the highest achievements of humanity.  Nevertheless, amid the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, Japan was pressed into creating what is now known as the Self-Defense Force and hosting U.S. military bases in Okinawa and elsewhere in Japan.  Today, in violation of Article 9 of the Constitution, the Abe government is rushing to turn Japan into a country that can wage war abroad together with the U.S. forces under the name of exercising the right to collective self-defense.

Prime Minister Abe cites the changing situation relating to Japan as the main reason for seeking to enact the “war bills.” He understands nothing about the basic idea behind the Constitution. On the contrary, he holds a wrong perception of Japan’s history, in particular about the past Japanese war of aggression and colonization of Manchuria and Korea. He dares to pay official visits to Yasukuni Shrine.  In addition, he is responsible for worsening the situation in East Asia by claiming that strengthening of U.S. bases in Japan and of Japanese Self-Defense Forces contributes to strengthening deterrence.  With help from our overseas friends, we will bring success to the 2015 World Conference and use this success as momentum, to force Abe government to step down as soon as possible.  

   

Solidarity with Hibakusha and victims of nuclear testing and nuclear accidents

Friends, 

The average age of A-bomb survivors has exceeded 80.  They are still afflicted with aftereffects caused by exposure to radiation from atomic bombings 70 years ago.  The government has underestimated or even totally ignored the effects of residual radiation, in particular those of internal exposure.  Hibakusha’s concerted lawsuits demanding withdrawal of the government’s refusal to certify their illnesses as caused by atomic bomb radiation continue.  In most of these lawsuits, courts have upheld Hibakusha’s call for residual radiation to be recognized as a cause of their illnesses. But the government would not revise the method for certifying Hibakusha with atomic bomb-caused diseases to one of adapting methods to the realities of atomic bombing for the Hibakusha.  The legal suits have helped to prove that internal exposure by inhaling particles that fell from the atomic cloud were an important contributing factor to the consequences of exposure to radioactive fallout.  This runs through as a common issue among people who were exposed to radiation caused by nuclear testing or nuclear plant accidents.  The urgent need is for our movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons to work to build an effective system of protection against radiation exposure based on human rights, a system that will not be distorted by pro-nuclear weapon policies or policies promoting nuclear power generation, and to eliminate damage from exposure to radiation.  At the same time, we are called upon to provide assistance and support to nuclear victims and work in solidarity with them and those who are fighting against nuclear power plants.

 

A world free of radiation threats

Friends, 

Even though the actual state of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after the accident is not known, the Abe government has failed to come up with comprehensive plans for radiological protection and evacuation of local populations in case of major accidents at nuclear power plants in Japan, a country with so many volcanoes and earthquakes.  It is now pushing ahead with restarts of nuclear plants that have been off line.  Historically, Japan’s nuclear energy policy began with the aim of maintaining the infrastructure for the U.S. to manufacture weapon-grade enriched uranium. The government is doing everything in the interest of power companies and nuclear plant builders, giving the green light to nuclear plant exporters in disregard of the safety of the Japanese people.  In fact, it overlooks the aggravating radiological environment in Fukushima due to a massive accumulation of radioactive waste, even though methods of disposal are not established, and ignores risks of accidents.  Modern science and technology, if they work hand in hand with the administration, are capable of producing renewable energy, replacing currently used limited resources such as fossil fuel and uranium fuel.

Friends,

As was shown at the NPT Review Conference, the forces calling for an early elimination of nuclear weapons are driving into a corner the forces clinging to such weapons.  On behalf of the organizers I would like to conclude this speech by expressing my wish that this World Conference will bring together the antinuclear forces, that through substantive discussions and reflection it will launch creative and concrete strategies for this 70th anniversary year of atomic bombing, and that this year will represent a decisive turning point towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.  Thank you.