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Bikini DayBeyond 70 Years Since A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki –
Now is the Time to Create a Nationwide People’s Movement for Abolition of Nuclear Weapons
International Forum
March 1 Bikini Day Gensuikyo National Conference
February 28, 2016

Tsuchida Yayoi
Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo)

Last year, we carried out a large-scale movement to make the 70th year of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki a decisive turn to a world without nuclear weapons.  We are pleased to witness a dramatic growth of a call for a total ban on nuclear weapons from the humanitarian viewpoint that even single nuclear weapon detonation would inflict catastrophic humanitarian consequences on all humankind.

Launched with 16 governments’ support at 2012 PrepCom of the 2015 NPT Review Conference, the joint statement on humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons has reached to get support from 159 governments (about 80 percent) of the world.  This humanitarian initiative developed further in the last year’s UN General Assembly, as seen in the adoption of resolutions such as “Humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons” supported by 144 countries, “Humanitarian pledge for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” by 139, “Ethical imperative for a nuclear-weapon-free world” by 132.  This means that a total ban and the elimination of nuclear weapons got support of about 70 percent of all governments. Namely, the achievement of a world without nuclear weapons is a prevailing voice in the world.

Towards last year’s NPT Review Conference, we carried out awareness-raising activities on the A-bomb damage, such as holding A-bomb exhibitions and hearing the Hibakusha’s (A-bomb survivors) stories, and petition drives for a total ban on nuclear weapons.  At the time of the Conference, together with overseas delegates attending here, we carried out international joint actions in NY, in which we submitted over 6.3 million signatures to the NPT.  Unfortunately, the Review Conference did not agree on a final document, but we were not discouraged.  We are rather convinced that our efforts gave a boost to the growing call for a total ban and the elimination of nuclear weapons.

This humanitarian initiative drove nuclear weapon states and those under their “nuclear umbrella” into corner.  The Japanese government was reluctant to support the joint statement, but pushed by the public opinion, it supported it in 2013.  The governments of USA and UK could not help but participate in the international conference on this theme held in Vienna in 2014.  Even nuclear weapon states could not deny the inhumanity of nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, the UN open-ended working group sessions have started this year to discuss legal measures to prohibit nuclear weapons.  We have great expectation on their discussion.

But on the other hand, nuclear weapon states strongly resisted the humanitarian offensive, claiming that nuclear arms are useful for national security.  Clinging to maintaining nuclear deterrence, they have refused to go for prohibiting nuclear weapons.  Japan and governments under US nuclear umbrella such as NATO member states have taken the attitude to support them, insisting that nuclear deterrence is necessary for their security.

This is the current situation over abolition of nuclear weapons. What we should do next for further advances is very clear.  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “True national security can only be achieved outside and away from the shadow of the nuclear threat. This shadow must be removed for the sake of present and future generations.” (Ban Ki-moon’s message to 2015 NPT Review Conference)

In contrast with the assertion of nuclear weapon states, many happenings in the world have proved how the maintaining of nuclear deterrence has endangered the world.  Over Ukraine and Syrian disputes, confrontation and tension between nuclear powers are intensifying.  It is still fresh in our minds that over the Ukraine issue, it was revealed that Russian President Vladimir Putin was ready for a nuclear launch; and the confronting NATO forces have repeated military exercises with an eye to a use of nuclear weapons.  Intensified interventions and bombings on Syria and IS (Islamic State) by big powers have increased danger of nuclear proliferation and a nuclear weapon use.

In Asia, too, the danger of military confrontation is increasing, including North Korea’s H-bomb test and military response to it by the US, South Korea and Japan, and exchange of provocative military actions over territorial disputes.

The reckless driving of the war laws, the exercise of the right to collective self-defense and the revision of the constitution in express terms is the way to make Japan and the world more dangerous.  The cases of other countries already showed that if Japan becomes a war-fighting country and gets engaged in these international disputes with the US, the Japanese nationals would kill or be killed in terrorism or involved in warfare.  

In addition, being under “nuclear umbrella”, Japan is incorporated into US nuclear strategy.  Recently it was reported that nuclear weapons had been deployed in Okinawa under the control of the US in 1960s.  The construction of a US new base at Henoko is forcibly pressed ahead. This base is said to be for the deployment of nuclear weapons because there is a secret nuclear agreement to allow bringing-in of them.

Due to nuclear deterrence doctrines, war and international disputes are associated with the danger of a nuclear weapon use as two sides of a coin.  International disputes must be settled by peaceful means.  The abolition of nuclear weapons is an urgent task.  Whether by accident or by design, nuclear weapons must not be used again.

To this end, we are resolved to make a fresh start from this Bikini Day to fulfill a long-held ardent desire of the Hibakusha to get rid of nuclear weapons while they are alive.  

The first slogan is “Let’s stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons from the humanitarian viewpoint”.  Japan’s anti-A and H Bomb movement has constantly built up public support for a total ban on nuclear weapons by making known to the people the damage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki through persistent activities of holding A-bomb exhibitions and disseminating the Hibakusha’s stories. Now the attention of international community to the damage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is increasing.  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “I challenge anyone who doubts the urgency of nuclear disarmament to listen to their (Hibakusha’s) experiences”.  However, much more effort is needed to overcome nuclear deterrence doctrines of nuclear weapon states and those relying on their nuclear weapons.  We, the movement of an A-bombed country, has a responsibility to expand the knowledge of the A-bomb damage into every corner of Japan and the rest of the world.

Another slogan is “Together with the Hibakusha, let’s create a nationwide people’s movement for a total ban and the elimination of nuclear weapons”.  The Feb. 27 action of CND served as a good precedent for us.  I express sincere admiration to their activism to have organized such a large-number and wide-range of people to oppose Trident.  Soon, the Hibakusha will issue an appeal against nuclear weapons and call for support from people of Japan and around the world.  I have great expectation that a Hibakusha representative will speak on their initiative at Gensuikyo’s National Conference tomorrow.  This will be a great initiative.  Without doubt, their appeal will receive unprecedentedly broader support, transcending all differences.  

We are also encouraged by the surge of the people’s opposition to the war laws and the revision of the Constitution as well as the expansion of cooperation among a broader range of individuals and organizations.  The encirclement of the parliament by about 120,000 people was unprecedented in recent history.  Okinawan people have carried on persistent struggle to stop the construction of a base at Henoko.  Pushed by the public opinion, all opposition parties agreed to cooperate in the Upper House Election in July to scrap the war laws, which will bring new perspective to Japanese politics.  This good news has encouraged the people and made them firmly determined to get more united to stop Abe’s bad politics.

We are determined to do our utmost to make a success of the 20-million petition collection campaign to repeal the war laws.  By doing so, we want to contribute to achieving this goal which we have to win.  Many people are suffering from bad politics of Abe government.  Together with a broad range of people and movements for peace and the restoration of constitutionalism and against poverty, welfare cutoff, the abandonment of Fukushima victims, the restart of nuclear power plants, etc, we will work to change Japan and build up public support for the abolition of nuclear weapons.