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StatementTime to Resolve to Totally Ban Nuclear Weapons and Start Negotiations without Delay
April 30, 2012
Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo)

On the occasion of the First Preparatory Committee to the 2015 NPT Review Conference, we express our deep respect to you all for your persistent efforts to create a world without nuclear weapons.

Pressed by the mounting public opinion in favor of the abolition of nuclear weapons, the 8th NPT Review Conference held in May, 2010 reached an agreement to achieve the “peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”. The Final Document, adopted by consensus, specified that the five nuclear weapons states should “accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals” and that all governments should “make special efforts to establish a necessary framework” of a world without nuclear weapons, referring to the five point proposal of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, including negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention. The implementation of these agreements is the key to the success of the 2015 NPT Review Conference and of your efforts leading up to it.

As an organization which called for global actions by civil society and carried them out with NGOs from throughout the world for the 2010 NPT Review Conference, we call on all the parties of the NPT to implement all the agreements in good faith for the success of the 2015 NPT Review Conference and to do their utmost to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.

On March 11 last year, Japan was struck by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the tsunamis that followed. In addition to the suffering caused by the earthquake and tsunamis, the Japanese people suffered as a result of the subsequent accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. As a result of this accident, Japan was exposed to massive radiation damage for the third time, following the radiation exposure of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This accident forced more than 100,000 people to evacuate and left them uneasy about their health and livelihoods.  To eradicate radiation damage, we appeal to the international community to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons without delay and to build a new agreement for a shift to secure and safe sustainable energy resources.

Resolve to Totally Ban Nuclear Weapons and Start Negotiations without Delay

For a world without nuclear weapons to be achieved, our single proposal is that the international community build a binding agreement to ban nuclear weapons.  Since the first World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs in Hiroshima in 1955, we have never ceased to call for this, and now it is the wish of the overwhelming majority of both governments and civil society.

We know that some governments still reject negotiations on a total ban on the grounds that it is “premature”, or that a step-by-step approach is necessary.  We, too, believe that partial measures, such as the ratification and early entry into force of the CTBT or the start of negotiations for an FMCT, are important and should be promoted and completed. The convening of an international conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons is equally as important.
Yet, the importance of these measures cannot stand as a reason to refuse or postpone action for a total ban.
The abolition of nuclear weapons can be achieved only by making it an objective, negotiating on it and achieving an agreement to ban these weapons. This is clear from all the experiences of successful bans on other weapons of mass destruction or inhumane weapons, such as chemical and biological weapons, antipersonnel mines and cluster bombs.
Even the negotiations on partial measures can find their way forward when the objective of a total ban on nuclear weapons is made clear and action for it is taken.  We call on all parties to the NPT to discuss the commencement of negotiations on a convention banning nuclear weapons as an urgent, priority task in the current work of the Preparatory Committee, with the view to getting them actually started.

Overcoming “Nuclear Deterrence” Doctrine, the Major Obstacle in the Way of Achieving a Nuclear Weapon-Free World

In achieving a world without nuclear weapons, we should further overcome the assumption that nuclear weapons are a guarantor of peace and security, or the doctrine of “nuclear deterrence”.

For 67 years since the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the “nuclear deterrence” doctrine has incessantly fomented crises where nuclear weapons were not actually used.  Not only did it culminate in the real danger of “Mutually Assured Destruction”, but it is even now forming the basis on which as many as 20,000 nuclear weapons are stockpiled or deployed despite the end to the “Cold War”.  In addition, the “nuclear deterrence” doctrine is serving as a major factor to promote nuclear proliferation, by threatening nuclear attacks and thus eliciting a sense of crisis in the opponent.  We, of course, are against the development or possession of nuclear weapons by any country whatsoever.  Yet if those who have their own nuclear weapons cling to their attempts to justify them as “deterrents” or “guarantors of security”, the danger of proliferation can never be eliminated.  This is fully proved by the whole process of past nuclear proliferation.

There is, yet, another reality in the world.  Of the 193 UN members, and of the 190 parties to the NPT, as many as 185 countries remain under the obligation of not developing, possessing or acquiring nuclear weapons, as provided for by Article 2 of the treaty. In addition, there are countries among the nuclear weapons states and non-NPT parties that constantly vote in favor of the start of negotiations leading to a ban on nuclear weapons.

All these demonstrate that it is neither premature nor hasty to start negotiations on a total ban on nuclear weapons. On the contrary, to cling to nuclear weapons on the pretense of “deterrence” or a “nuclear umbrella” runs counter to the major direction of our time towards a nuclear weapon-free world, and counter to the cause of the very survival of the human race.

Civil Society Will Continue Actions in Pursuit of a World without Nuclear Weapons

For most people around the world, “a world without nuclear weapons” is an urgent demand to be achieved. To gather further momentum, we launched in February 2011 a new signature campaign in support of the “Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons”.  It calls on all governments to enter negotiations without delay on a convention banning nuclear weapons.  Supported by large numbers of prominent leaders in many fields in Japan and worldwide, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the appeal is now signed by 1,547,979 people in Japan (as of April 26, 2012), which include 815 mayors, 104 vice mayors and 644 municipal chair or vice-chair persons. This number represents 54% of all Japanese municipalities. The campaign is growing into common efforts of local communities in a number of cities, towns and villages.  Along with this, we also launched a new campaign, the exhibition of photographic panels entitled “Humans and A-bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki”.  On the occasion of this first Preparatory Committee, we exhibit some photos in the lobby of this building, in the University of Vienna, and simultaneously in dozens of cities in Japan to show what human consequences the use of a nuclear bomb has, and why the human race must ban nuclear weapons.

The surest way to abolish nuclear weapons and not allow them to remerge is to build a firm understanding among the whole of humanity of the inhuman nature of nuclear weapons.  We hope that all governments note the significance of this project and extend support to the Hibakusha, the A-bomb survivors, other nuclear victims, anti-nuclear peace movements and other NGOs in their common effort to this end.