Japanese Peace Activists Call for a Nuclear Free World


8-23-07, 9:16 am

The 2007 World Conference against Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs and related events took place in Hiroshima on August 3-6 and in Nagasaki on August 7-9.

International Meeting

In the International Meeting held in Hiroshima for three days from August 3, government representatives from Malaysia, Egypt, and Mexico and 250 people, including 65 overseas delegates from more than 20 countries, discussed the theme of “A Nuclear Weapon-Free, Peaceful and Just World.”

Looking to the 2010 NPT Review Conference, the participants agreed on the need to further strengthen their movements for the abolition of nuclear weapons by making use of the 62nd U.N. General Assembly and the 2008 NPT Preparatory Committee meeting.

The unanimous Declaration of the International Meeting defines the elimination of nuclear weapons as a task that has direct bearing on the very survival of the human race and calls for cooperation among popular movements, civil society and committed governments to bring change to international politics (see separate item).

Mohd Arshad Manzoor Hussain, ambassador and permanent representative of Malaysia to the U.N. in Vienna, in his speech said, “The problem that we face today is not the lack of ideas. It is the lack of political will on the part of the nuclear weapon states to move the process forward.” He criticized the U.S. and other nuclear weapons possessing counties for their failure to fulfill the disarmament obligation under the NPT. The ambassador stressed the need to strengthen “existing disarmament treaty-based mechanisms with the full support and political will of States,” and called on governments and NGOs to cooperate within the NPT and U.N. frameworks to achieve total nuclear disarmament.

Mohamed Ezzeldine Abdel-Moneim, special advisor on Disarmament and Strategic Affairs of the League of Arab States, pointed out the importance of anti-nuclear weapons activities by stating, “If one concedes to whatever justification of the nuclear attacks against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this will imply a justification of nuclear bombings anywhere in the future.”

Egyptian ambassador to Japan Hisham Mohamed Mostafa Badr warned that the failure of the five nuclear weapon states to comply with their disarmament obligation under the NPT would “ultimately serve to undermine the credibility of the treaty and its overall implementation.”

Mexican ambassador to Japan Miguel Ruiz-Cabanas Izquierdo criticized the move for blurring the differences between conventional and nuclear weapons and for lowering the threshold for the actual use of nuclear weapons, stating, “The preference of some countries to preserve the nuclear option as a key component for their defense constitutes a trend that can encourage other countries to modernize their weapons and might lead to nuclear development by currently non nuclear states in order to gain deterrence capabilities.”

Participants from five nuclear weapon states and activists from Korean NGOs also spoke.

Many criticized the nuclear weapon states’ hypocrisy of pursuing modernization and improvement of their nuclear arsenals while calling for nuclear nonproliferation.

Speakers emphasized the importance of grassroots movements calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, in opposition to the Iraq war and U.S. occupation of Iraq, and in defense of Japan’s pacifist Constitution.

Hibakusha -- survivors of the atomic bombings in Japan and those who suffered from radioactive fallout of nuclear tests across the world -- testified to the danger of nuclear weapons.

Iraklis Tsavdaridis, executive secretary of the World Peace Council, accused the U.S. and its allies of their belligerent policies as seen in wars on Afghanistan and Iraq and invasion of Lebanon by Israel. He expressed his solidarity with all the movements that are opposed to war, occupation, construction of military bases, and adverse revision of the Japanese Constitution.

Participants renewed their determination to increase anti-nuclear movements and create a world trend for the abolition of nuclear weapons before the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

The 2007 World Conference against A & H Bombs - Hiroshima

The 2007 World Conference against A & H Bombs - Hiroshima was held in Hiroshima City on August 6 with the attendance of representatives from four governments and an international organization and about 2,000 foreigners and Japanese.

The World Conference adopted a resolution, “Appeal from Hiroshima” that calls for strengthening grassroots activities aimed at the abolition of nuclear weapons (see separate item) and a special resolution calling for an immediate settlement of Hibakusha lawsuits.

On behalf the organizer, Anzai Ikuro, director of Ritsumeikan University International Peace Museum said, “Solidarity between grassroots movements, civil societies, and governments is influencing international politics. Let us band together as many people as possible so that this solidarity can be turned into a ‘super power’ capable of changing the world.”

Referring to the activities of the “Mayors for Peace,” Hiroshima City Mayor Akiba Tadatoshi in a special report stressed that the overwhelming majority of governments and individuals in the world demand the abolition of nuclear weapons. Akiba expressed his solidarity with the movement and called for further strengthening of global solidarity.

Deputy Head of Mission and Counselor of the Cuban Embassy in Japan Herminio Lopez Diaz said in his speech, “Holding the presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement, Cuba will exert efforts to build the foundation for a successful outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference.”

The 2007 World Conference against A & H Bombs - Nagasaki

The 2007 World Conference against A & H Bombs - Nagasaki opened on August 7 in Nagasaki City. About 6,800 people resolved to create a world without nuclear weapons as soon as possible.

Participants warmly welcomed Nagasaki City Mayor Tanoue Tomihisa who delivered a speech to the World Conference.

Anzai Ikuro drew attention to the marked change in the world situation in which the U.S. Bush administration has become isolated from the rest of the world for its war on Iraq and in which Japan’s Abe Cabinet suffered a crushing blow in the recent Upper House election.

The Malaysian and Egyptian government representatives also made speeches. Chu Chong-Hwan, chairman of the Social Foundation (Minhwaryon), in his speech said, “The abolition of nuclear weapons is a righteous struggle that everyone in the world should take part in.”

In the evening, 4,000 young people converged for the International Youth Rally under the slogan, “Let Us Get Rid of Nuclear Weapons - 2007 in Nagasaki.” They brought 210,000 paper-cranes with them to represent the lives of the 210,000 people who were killed by the atomic bombings. They resolved to make Nagasaki the last A-bombed city.

On August 8, 15 workshops under a wide variety of themes, including tours to the U.S. Sasebo Naval Base and to A-bombed buildings and monuments, took place throughout Nagasaki City.

On the same day, the forum “Dialogue between Government Representatives and Grass-Roots Movements: For a Nuclear Weapon-Free, Peaceful and Just World” was held with an attendance of 400 people. The Malaysian government representative pointed out that although the majority in the world is opposed to nuclear weapons, nuclear possessing nations still stick to the notion of nuclear deterrence. He called on the participants to “continue putting pressures on nuclear weapon states in order to force a change in U.S. policies.”

On August 9, 7,000 people took part in the Closing Plenary of the 2007 World Conference against A & H Bombs- Nagasaki.

The Closing Plenary unanimously adopted a resolution “Appeal from Nagasaki” (see separate item) as well as the “Letter to Governments from Nagasaki” (see separate item) that calls on world governments and the U.N. to launch a process to conclude an agreement totally banning on nuclear weapons.

Taka Hiroshi, secretary general of the Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Japan Gensuikyo) proposed an action policy to urge nuclear weapon states to fulfill their “unequivocal undertaking” to abolish nuclear weapons by the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

Young participants appeared on the stage with peace banners in their hands and expressed their determination to increase their movements in order to not have to repeat the tragic stories of the Hibakusha.

Everyone in the conference hall observed one minute of silence at 11:02 a.m., the moment of the A-bombing on Nagasaki.

From Akahata

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