Hyogo Council against A & H Bombs (Hyougo Gensuikyo)
Role of Non-Nuclear Kobe Formula in Establishing Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
I have been the secretary of Hyogo Gensukyo
for 14 years and it is the first time for me to participate in the International
Meeting of the World Conference. At this time of the year prefectural
secretaries of Gensuikyo usually stay in their hometowns to organize as
many people as possible in their delegations to the World Conference until
the very last minutes. It hasn't been easy for me to attend the International
Meeting since our Gensuikyo is usually at full throttle at this time, organizing
a 200-member delegation to the World Conference. This year is different.
Until last year, Rev. Ohkawa Yoshiatsu, Hyog Gensuikyo's Board of Directors
chair, used to speak about our activities. Even after he was
diagnosed as in a state of terminal pancreas cancer and told that he had
only one year to live, he took part in this Meeting and spoke. He
passed away last April after a difficult year-long struggle. He never
gave up his strong hope for the movement against nuclear weapons.
We later learned that in New Zealand, a country known for its nuclear-free
policy like one of Kobe Port banning the entry of nuclear weapon-carrying
warships, John Urlich, chair of the Aotearoa
bNew Zealand Peace Council and our close friend and collegue, passed away around the same time. I knew it was a mere coincidence but I was so shocked by the loss of these great people at the same time. We know that the task now is for us to carry forward the struggle to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons, which they wished to. This is why I am here to express my firm commitment to the cause.
On January 9th this year at the US Yokosuka Naval Base, the US 7th Fleet and the US Navy Command in Japan held a ceremony to commend outgoing US Ambassador to Japan Thomas Foley. He was awarded with decoration for his contribution to "increasing the number of US warship visiting Japanese civil ports." Indeed, there has been a sharp increase in the number of such port calls in the last several years. In five years between 1996, when the New Guidelines for Japan-US War Cooperation came into effect, and last year, the number of visits by US warships rose to 93. Among the many Japanese ports, only Kobe Port has successfully blocked the entry of US warships (other than supply vessels). No such ships have been to Kobe Port. The rejection is made possible through the city's administrative measure called non-nuclear "Kobe Formula," which has been practiced for 26 years since 1975.
Under the Kobe Formula, Kobe City, which has administrative control over the port, requires foreign military vessels seeking to enter the port to present a certificate that they do not carry nuclear weapons. The city will reject entry if no such certificate is submitted. It is this procedure that is preventing nuclear weapons from being brought into the port and that effectively keeps US warships off shore because of US policy of neither confirm nor deny (NCND) the deployment of nuclear weapons.
In the aftermath of World War II, Kobe
Port was under US military occupation and was used by the US 7th Fleet
until the port was totally returned to Japan in 1974.
During the occupation, as many as 311 US warships visited and used the
port a year. Between 1962 and 1964, during the Vietnam
War, US aircraft carriers, including the Kitty Hawk, entered the port 14 times. Between 1960, when the revised Japan-US Security Treaty was concluded, and 1974, as 432 such ships visited the port. These numbers reflected that Kobe Port's capacity was greater than any other Japanese port in meeting various requirements. In light of this and the Japanese governments' world-famous subservience to the US government, the existence of the non-nuclear Kobe Formula denying entry of warships of the United States, Japan's ally, is almost a wonder.
There were three elements that contributed to the establishment of the Kobe Formula.
One is the struggle of Kobe citizens for peace. One of such efforts is the annual peace demonstration and the Christmas rally organized by port workers and Kobe citizens. This rally, which began as action to demand that the US military facility be removed from Kobe Port, had been held for the past 40 years. Another is the monthly 6th and 9th found-raising campaign by Kobe Port Gensuikyo calling for the relief of Hibakusha. For 35 years since 1966 they have continued the campaign without missing even one day. The petition for the elimination of nuclear weapons has been signed by 1 million out of 1.55 million Kobe citizens.
The second is the power of the peace forces
in the Kobe City Council, which reflect its citizens' struggle for peace.
In 1971, the Japanese Communist Party won extra 7 seats to establish its
10-member delegation in the city assembly. This reinforcement of
the peace forces in the city
assembly helped adopt the unanimous resolution on Rejection of Entry of Nuclear Capable Ships into Kobe Port.
The third and last element is the power
of the administration implementing progressive policies. It was established
in 1973 with the commitment to refuse to allow any types of military facilities
and any military use of the port. The administration took the will
of the residents and the city council for
peace in its face value and initiated the Kobe Formula.
I am glad to tell you that an initiative for nuclear-free community taken by a local municipality now serves as a guide for the world peace movement. In closing, the NGO Millennium Forum held in May last year proposed that the Kobe Formula be adopted by national parliaments in the world.
However, today, the Non-Nuclear Kobe Formula is facing a major crisis. The US government and its military are pressing the city to abandon its nuclear-free policy and accept the entry of US warships to the port. They are indeed persistent in making this happen and the way they do it is extraordinary. Everyone, from US ambassadors to Japan to US general consul, the 7th Fleet Command, the Secretary of Navy, US ministers of political affairs and even the 7th Fleet jazz band! is being mobilized to the effort to undermine the nuclear-free status of Kobe Port.
The US consul general, in an effort to
achieve their goal, talked to the port workers union and the leader of
the ruling parties in the city assembly to get the US intention through
and invited local media organizations all the way to Hakkaido on board
the Kitty Hawk at a time when the aircraft
carrier was carrying out exercises off Hokkaido.
In 1995, the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing, a major earthquake hit Kobe City and took the lives of more than 6,000 people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes. Even 6 and half years since then, many of the victims are yet to restore normal life due to the lack of government measures. The US consul general is keen to take advantage of this situation to help US businesses make inroads into Kobe's markets in the guise of assisting Kobe's rehabilitation. He even went on to say that "if Kobe retains the Kobe Formula rejecting the entry of US military ships, it would be misinterpreted that Kobe is an anti-US city," that it would adversely affect the city's economic development and that "the Kobe Formula portrays the city as an anti-US city, which is obstructing investments to the city." In saying this, the consul general is playing nasty trick on the people, businesses and Kobe City, using the restoration assistance as a bate for making the city allow US warships to enter Kobe Port.
Drawing bitter lessons from the war, Japan
established a new constitutional principle of peace and pledged never to
wage war of aggression. Japan also has the unique experience of having
suffered the atomic bombing during the war. Based on the experience
and the people's consensus in favor of the abolition of nuclear weapons
and against the existence of nuclear weapons on its soil, the Japanese
parliament adopted a resolution on the Three Non-Nuclear Principles as
a national policy. The Kobe Formula is a practical application of
the peace principles, so these principles be strictly observed. And
the procedure (on certification of non-nuclear status) is based on the
nation's constitutional principle of local self-government. It is
absolutely legitimate for a Japanese local municipality to exercise control
over its ports. No matter how much the national government would
want, it cannot deny this fact. What's more, the United States has
no right to interfere with local administration to change its policy.
Why is the United States so persistent about Kobe Port? An
Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) official in answer said that the US
is concerned about the possible proliferation of the Kobe Formula to other
municipalities. Another SDF official reportedly said that Kobe Port
is the most important bulwark of the nuclear-free policy and that a defeat
of this system will allow US warships to visit any other any Japanese port
(Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 14, 2000). This is a confession by US and Japanese
military authorities that the Kobe Formula is an obstacle to the use
of Kobe Port, which can play an essential role in favor of US military strategy. This is how they are afraid of the possible spread of the nuclear-free practice to other parts of Japan.
Every Japanese port has conditions to take
similar nuclear-free measures. The revelation of Japan-US secret
arrangements on nuclear weapons, which allow the US to bring in their nuclear
weaponry to Japan, has angered the Japanese people. US warships'
entry into Japanese ports is
another source of apprehension on the part of municipalities concerned, compelling some of them to request such warships to certify their nuclear weapon-free status. Today 2,497 Japanese municipalities declare themselves nuclear-free (75% of the nation's municipalities), many of which are
calling on the national government to strictly observe the Three Non-Nuclear Principles. If these three elements are integrated, as Kobe has done, the Kobe Formula can be adopted in many more ports. The nuclear-free municipality movement has been a threat to those forces that cling to nuclear weapons. In 1985, the Liberal Democratic Party in a desperate effort to stop the movement published a pamphlet entitled, " 'Nuclear-Free Municipality Declaration' does harm to peace for Japan". Let us use our best wisdom and power to strengthen the effort to raise the nuclear-free
declaration effort to a higher stage to achieve a nuclear-free Japan.
I call on the Japanese delegates to the World Conference to take a fresh look at the Non-Nuclear Kobe Formula in order to take concrete actions to make the Three Non Nuclear Principles a law and press our cities and towns to follow the Kobe Formula. This will ensure us a nuclear-free Japan.
We are now to get the city administration to advance non-nuclear and peace principles as by the city's policy. It will ensure not only Kobe Port but also the city as a whole become nuclear-free by legislating an ordinance. With such an ordinance in place, the city will state its position not to use its facilities, financial resources and workers other than for peaceful purposes. This can then serve as a standard for responding to the national government requesting local governments to provide its workers and facilities for military activities under the New Guidelines for Japan-US Defense Cooperation. Local municipalities should establish their own standards regarding interpretation of the law, as the national government is not the only entity endowed with such right. This will be a force to refuse unreasonable pressure to destroy the Kobe Formula and allow US warships to enter the port.
I call on you to learn from the Kobe Formula,
now an internationally recognized guideline for nuclear-free society, in
your efforts to nuclear weapon-free zones. I would like to propose
making March 18, the anniversary of Kobe Formula, and June 4, the day the
New Zealand nuclear-free law came into effect, as days of international
joint action to appeal for nuclear-free ports. From Kobe, New Zealand
and other parts of the world, we can use the Internet to inform the world
of our activities. Let's organize action on those days to call on
local governments, the central government
and port authorities concerned to work for msking ports nuclear-free. I would also like to propose an international joint action to call for an international conference to help strengthen the effort to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons, which was agreed on the UN Millennium Summit.
Let us strive for the establishment of
nuclear-weapon free zones. It will be conducive to the abolition
of nuclear weapons through making our municipalities nuclear-free.