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Hibakusha / Hiroshima & Nagasaki


Colin Archer
Secretary General
International Peace Bureau

International Meeting

2015 World Conference against A and H Bombs


Colin Archer

Secretary General

International Peace Bureau


Dear friends of peace

Let me begin by conveying to you the warmest of greetings from the IPB: from Reiner Braun and Ingeborg Breines, our two Co-Presidents, our staff, Board and Council, and in a wider sense, all our 300 member organisations and individual members around the world. It is a great personal pleasure to be among you once again.

Above all else I wish to express our deep appreciation to the members of Nihon Hidankyo and all the other hibakusha who have devoted their adult lives to the struggle to make sure that the tragedies experienced here and in Nagasaki should never, and nowhere, happen again. And of course to all of you who make up this wonderful World Conference.

In our lifetimes it has always been a dangerous period: whether we think of the terrible destruction of WW2, of the Cold War period with its apocalyptic terrors, or the period since 1990 in which public attention has been distracted from the menace of nuclear destruction. And there are new dangers now, both in East Asia and in East Europe, or indeed in the Middle East or in South Asia – all areas where the nuclear sword of Damocles hangs over us.

Time does not permit me to talk in detail about Ukraine. Suffice to say that the responsibility for once again bringing us to the brink of an all-out confrontation belongs with all 3 main external parties: Russia, the US, and the EU.  The difficulty for peace movements is that we do not agree on what portion of the blame lies with each of the 3. This makes it hard to mobilise popular opinion, which is at the same time struggling to focus on so many other issues and other conflicts. Yet we cannot turn our faces away. In part we are involved because of our own history, as activists who played our part in bringing an end to the Cold War confrontation and giving birth to what followed, even if in many ways it was not what we struggled for. We wanted social justice, for some the vision was socialism itself. We wanted a new equality among states, a generalised form of mutual respect. What we have got is neo liberal societies and the domination of western forces, giving rise to a new wave of authoritarianism and even war.

Let us set it in a global view: the US and its allies face (for the first time since 1941) essentially 3 adversaries. This time it is not Germany, Italy and Japan, but China, Russia and militant Islam. This alone would be sufficient to put the Pentagon a full war footing. Yet while there are preparations for war and many actual strikes with drones and other weapons, we are not in a full war situation. That could be because of Obama’s relatively dovish posture (or indeed confusion); or war weariness after Iraq and Afghanistan; or lack of economic resources on all sides; or fear of a new Cold War; or China’s policy of what I call ‘non-aggressive militarism’ – there are many explanations.

Nevertheless, these are not reasons for complacency – quite the reverse. There are serious dangers in the current situation and the new Japanese militarism of Prime Minister Abe – bolstered by the US and mirrored by China - represents one of them. For that reason the IPB expresses its solidarity with the Japanese peace movement in its efforts to reverse the legislation planned by Abe and its determination to stand by Article 9 and the values its embodies.

Since 2004 that IPB’s main focus has been on military spending, militarism in general, and the impact of armament on sustainable development. We have acted as the initiator and coordinator of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, which has now been run 5 times, starting in 2011. This has now been broadened into a year-round Global Campaign on Military Spending (GCOMS). In order to give greater power to this Campaign we are currently preparing a major world congress on the subject, to be held in Berlin from Sept 30 to Oct 3 next year. The Japanese perspective is an important one and we are hopeful not only of a strong participation at the conference, but also the organisation of one or more ‘Prepcomms’ in this country in order to engage a wider participation in the campaign.


Three final points:

First: the importance of considering the geo-political dimension in whatever we focus on. I am convinced that among the most powerful driving forces in tomorrow’s conflicts will be the issues of access to natural resources. We must urge our governments to resolve these tensions – which are probably inevitable – though international law and by cooperation among states and peoples. The alternative is too terrible to consider.

Second: we must think carefully about the link between nuclear and conventional war. Fear of an adversary’s conventional forces tends to reinforce the temptation to go nuclear, or to use nuclear forces. Thus the effort to reduce everyone’s military commitment is work that helps us avoid nuclear war too.

Thirdly: In this place and with this audience I scarcely need to stress the urgency of moves towards global nuclear abolition. And yet our politicians don’t hear it, don’t get it, don’t remember it. We have to speak louder, both heart to heart, and still more convincingly, reason to reason.

Our future depends on being successful.

Domo arigato gozaimas.