Opening Plenary
2001 World Conference against A & H Bombs-Nagasaki
August 7, 2001

Higashi Kazufumi
Nihon Seinendan Council

Dear delegates assembled here in Nagasaki to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free and truly peaceful 21st century,

At the opening of the Nagasaki Rally of the World Conference against A and H Bombs where people of different generations gather, I would like to extend my greetings of encouragement and solidarity to you on behalf of the young people who are keepers of the future in their local communities.

Our organization, Nihon Seinendan Council (Japan Association of Young Peoplefs Associations) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Since its founding, it has always dedicated its efforts to the peace movement, with resolve based upon a sincere reflection of the past war, that gyoung people will not take up guns again.h In particular, we listen to the stories told by the Hibakusha who suffered pain in their bodies and minds in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, try to understand the inhuman terror of nuclear weapons and learn the realities of the damage caused by nuclear testing. This is an integral part of the movement we carry on in cooperation with diverse citizensf groups for getting rid of nuclear weapons as soon as possible.

Modest but steady local initiatives we organize include gA-Bomb exhibitionsh in small towns and villages and gatherings of women, children and young people to which we invite A-bomb survivors to share their stories. We also organize a gPeace Message Contesth using cell phones so that those young people who do not have the opportunity to visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki can establish links and work in solidarity with others across the country. We have just launched a new campaign. In this campaign, we ask our local members to grow, as a gsymbol of peaceh the rose kept by the family of Kuboyama Aikichi who fell victim to Bikini nuclear test.

The hibakusha have always been in the center of our campaigns. One summer 56 years ago, they were exposed to an unimaginable assault by heat rays, blast and radiation. We have learnt a lot from them. While suffering the pain from the atomic bombing, they have led our movement in dignity, upholding the noble objective to gnever create another Hibakusha.h From their attitude, we learn that we, young people, as main actors in future society, must change the course of history and create a better future. Today, when young people and children can have little expectations for the future, the heroic struggle of the Hibakusha gives us tremendous encouragement and inspiration. And as the Hibakusha are getting old, we, the last generation of people who are able to directly share their experiences, bear the heavy responsibility of keeping the memory of the atomic bombing alive and passing on their stories to future generations.

Despite the desperate call of the Hibakusha, there are still over 30,000 nuclear weapons on earth. Although an overwhelming majority of citizens feel threatened by their presence, a concrete agenda for their elimination has yet to be presented. In addition, the U.S. has proposed a new missile defense initiative which may ignite another nuclear arms race.

Moreover, the government of Japan, the country that experienced the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has shown understanding of the U.S. policy and is following the U.S. in implementing it. As an A-bombed country, Japan must on the contrary take the lead in the efforts of the international community for eliminating nuclear weapons. We therefore seriously question the Japanese government trying to stick to the outdated myth of nuclear deterrence.

In order to change the policy of the Japanese government, we must work in solidarity across differences in ideology or philosophy and develop our movement. We must hold high the noble objective of elimination of nuclear weapons, crucial for ensuring the survival of human beings, and rally as many people as possible on this goal. I want to assure you that the young people and children who bear the future will be able to find new hope in this movement.

Let me conclude this message of solidarity from the young people around the country to this conference by saying that we renew our resolve here in Nagasaki to pass on and disseminate knowledge about atomic bombing and strengthen public opinion to demand the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Let us act together!

To the 2001 Wolrd Conference against A & H Bombs