Director, Ritsumeikan University International Peace Museum
Humanity has entered the 21st century without getting rid of the threat of nuclear weapons. With massive starvation and global environmental destruction, the world is now confronted with a serious crisis. Is this all that human wisdom, the ultimate attainment of evolution, is able to offer us? If we ever want to live in peace, there is no other way for us now but to strive, with renewed resolve, for a world where human abilities can come into full bloom, and to bring all our wisdom and actions together. This World Conference provides a forum for elaborating a strategy for this.
People who saw in the nuclear flames flaring up here in Hiroshima 56 years ago a sign of the crisis that human beings would face, stood up to speak out about their horrible experiences, while struggling with their own unspeakable traumas, raising the awareness of the public. "No more Hiroshimas and Nagasakis!" "Abolish Nuclear Weapons!" These voices spread out gradually. They have grown into a force which, in the very last year of the 20th century, forced the nuclear weapons states including the U.S., the most powerful of all, to agree to an "unequivocal undertaking to eliminate nuclear weapons" from their arsenals. The cries of the Hibakusha, joined by the voices of a broad range of NGOs throughout the world calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons, have rallied governments of many nations, including the New Agenda and Non-Aligned states, in a joint effort to influence international politics.
However, the nuclear weapons states are not willing to take any action to abandon their nuclear weapons. The U.S. and Russia, while speaking of reducing nuclear weapons, aim to maintain their monopoly on nuclear arsenals using their own "security" and "new threats" as excuses. Particularly, the U.S. Bush administration intends to build a "missile defense" system to "neutralize" nuclear attack capabilities of other states, so that it can hold an absolute superiority of first-use nuclear attack capabilities. In its outright hegemonist behavior, the U.S. has adopted a reactionary attitude on nuclear issues, such as its refusal to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Its actions become more outrageous as it turns its back on the collective efforts of the international community. It rejected the chair's proposal for drafting a protocol to the treaty on the prohibition of biological weapons in the conference of parties to the treaty. This resulted in the breakdown of negotiations. It announced its breakaway from the Third Conference of Parties on combating global warming (COP 3). Such attitudes have disgusted many people and governments all over the world.
The government of A-bombed Japan has expressed understanding of and cooperation with the Bush administration's "missile defense" program, increasing its dependence on the U.S. nuclear strategy. Moves have become visible to incorporate Japan into full-scale joint military operations. Japan continues to host U.S. military bases, the root cause of the frequent recurrence of crimes committed by U.S. soldiers against Japanese people. Under the Koizumi Cabinet, which even tries to use the "reform without exception" as an opportunity to revise Article 9 of the Constitution, the government is undermining peace through the approval of a much controversial history textbook and the Prime Minister's planned visit to Yasukuni Shrine. Such an attitude could ruin the friendly relations with neighboring countries. At this moment, it is crucial that Japanese peace forces demand that the government take the initiative to eliminate nuclear weapons, maintain the Three Non-nuclear Principles, and strictly observe Article 9. This is also important in order to strengthen the trend for peace in Asia.
Based upon this understanding of the present situation, we must recognize that this World Conference has an extremely important role to play. First of all, we must urge the nuclear weapons states to carry out their "promise of unequivocal undertaking to eliminate nuclear weapons," and we must massively intensify our efforts to influence the United Nations and other institutions to at once start negotiations for the conclusion of a treaty on "abolition and total ban on nuclear weapons." We must also make known the danger of the "missile defense" program to as many people as possible, including U.S. citizens, and develop international joint actions to demand the U.S. withdraw the program. Further, we must call for the cancellation of nuclear development and nuclear tests; for a drastic reduction of nuclear weapons; for the prohibition of the first-use of nuclear weapons and their use against non-nuclear possessing countries; and for a ban on the bringing-in, deployment and transit of nuclear weapons in other countries. We must call for the expansion and strengthening of non-nuclear municipalities and nuclear free-zones. We must investigate and make public the whole picture of the damage suffered by the A-bomb and other nuclear victims, and work in solidarity to make governments compensate and give relief measures to the victims.
People are looking to us to work out through this World Conference an original strategy for broader cooperation for the total ban on and the elimination of nuclear weapons. We must be fully aware of our duty in this regard. Let us exchange experiences and inspire imagination with each other, to create a powerful movement that can change the mind of those who cling to their nuclear weapons.