Report on Workshop 1:
Abolition of Nuclear Weapons Without Delay

World Council Against A & H Bombs, Hiroshima, August 2001

Japan Report 2001

Co-chaired by Takahashi, O'Brien, Kobayashi and Thomas
August 4, 2001, 2:30-6:00 pm - Prepared by Ellen Thomas and Gerald O'Brien

Report 2001: Japan |
In Workshop One, many proposals arose from the comprehensive range of views expressed, all of which demonstrated a clear understanding of the essentials of humanity's struggle. Speakers made it clear that we must respond more quickly than the nuclearists, and that we must recognize their arrogance of power and their determination to retain and expand all weapons of mass destruction.

1. In summarizing the views of participants, we were impressed by the clarity of three proposals for action put forward by Gensuikyo Representative Director Koichi Akamatsu.
(a) First was a demand for governments to fulfill their obligations to block missile defense, and to conclude a nuclear weapons convention. Pressure on governments could be exercised locally through continued contact with embassies and consulates.
(b) The second point concerned the rallying of world opinion to recognize Hibakusha sufferings so that the present generation will be truly aware of the nature of nuclear weapons. Akamatsu-san urged the establishment of Citizens' Tribunals to judge the crimes of the use of nuclear weapons.
(c) Third, he urged the spreading internationally of the Kobe Formula, which would limit the violation of peoples' sovereignty and greatly aid abolition.

Other key points made:

2. Unity in diversity -- NGO's cooperating together; NGO's and governments cooperating. Use the internet to counter nuclearists' rapid response capability and exchange knowledge of each others' activities.

3. Start with moral concepts -- respect for life makes abolition essential. We have to believe in our own power, nonviolence is stronger than violence, moral is practical.

4. Participation and education of youth is essential. Youth are sensitive and need to be informed. The Hibakusha movie shown to the Democratic Youth League this weekend had students in tears. Most youth think the Japanese government insists on abolition, but it actually abstains. When youth are informed of this or about their government's position on missile defense, they're angry. Hibakusha must be better known around the world so people can relate to the victims. Abolition should be pursued through study sessions and campaigns. [Question: What kinds of materials are available for training and educating, not only in Japan but all over the world?].

5. The workshop went deeper than the plenary into such things as Canadian policies, weaponization of space.

6. Nuclear Free Zones Starting with local authorities, put pressure on national authorities to establish nuclear free zones. Press those local authorities which aren't ready to be a nuclear free zone to adopt the 3 non-nuclear principles of not making, possessing or bringing in nuclear weapons. Japan, South and North Korea and China should declare nuclear free NE Asia. There is a question whether Russia would be willing to participate.

7. Specifically addressing points in Subtext 1 -

(a) Opposition to missile defense: each of us must work on our own politicians, but can act in solidarity; for example, in October there will be actions against missile defense organized by Bruce Gagnon etc.; a good time for a Peace Wave.

(b) Prevention of development and testing: Hold ALL governments responsible that signed the UN Resolution. [U.S. AND world citizens, please support U.S. House Bill HR-2503, the "Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act."

(c) Deep Cuts: Casual attitude won't work, international treaties must be honored.

(d) Renunciation of first use policy: NATO's policy is subject to pressure; the 16 non-nuclear countries could pressure the 3 nuclear in NATO.

8. There should be more discussion on the CTBT, which should include all types of tests, including laboratory; and on how we address not-yet ratified treaties; and how to capitalize on the ICJ opinion. Nuclear disarmament must be made national as well as international law, to be enforceable. A time scale for abolition is needed.

9. Proposals: Japan should join the New Agenda Coalition.

10. In plenary the suggestion was made to "isolate the U.S." This idea was expanded: Take advantage of anti-Bush feelings about staying out of the Kyoto and chemical weapons treaties. The countries that ratified Kyoto have discovered they can work without the US. The international peace movement has an obligation to encourage to the maximum the lonely struggles of American peace activists.

11. Nuclear and war industries mean workers, which mean families and the infrastructures of whole cities in some places. They won't stop unless we convince them. They need a substitute. Why not convert war machines to clean energy production?

12. Speak to the government; every small step is useful. In Russia, 400 packages of information changed 110 legislators' minds regarding spent nuclear fuel. We can move people in government by showing what we and others are doing. The Hiroshima-Nagasaki campaign has 60 million signatures; use this to bring pressure on governments, which should be based on people's will.

13. We must make people graphically aware of the dangers of modern nuclear weapons, including production / environmental issues. There are victims of nuclear production as well as aggression. Leaders of nuclear states are unwilling to admit this, for economic/liability reasons. We should consider Hidankyo's Citizens' Tribunal on behalf of victims of nuclear industries. Young lawyers are suing Russian nuclear industries for damages to workers. [This has been an effective tool in the U.S., although it took a long time.] Like the South African Truth Commission, perhaps a promise to forgive those who tell the truth will loosen people's tongues.

14. Media must be involved; this can best be done by mobilizing public opinion. We must hit the streets -- colorful direct action at all elections, petitioning, lobbying, educating reporters, workers, politicians. Canada's ambassador for disarmament at the UN last year said, "Go out and get people fired up about CURRENT dangers of nuclear weapons." Hiroshima and Nagasaki were 56 years ago; we must bring the issue up to date. [One suggestion: seek professional production of John Hersey's "Hiroshima" in many languages.]

15. Other points came up which are important to the Japanese delegates, especially the school textbooks issue, which is relevant to nuclear weapons abolition because it pertains to the mis-education of Japan's children and the dishonesty of the Japanese government. Prime ministers change every 1-2 years and have never reduced the budget for military by even a yen. The workshop fully appreciated the international importance of the school textbook rewriting which aims at undermining the Peace Constitution and will enable Japanese forces to be used overseas as Asia/Pacific NATO surrogates. The anti-textbook struggle is already internationalized.

16. There were several reports on activities in various prefectures of Japan. Not mentioned were the desire to end the Japan-US defense agreement or preservation of Article 9 of the Constitution, probably because everybody understood their importance.

People spoke 27 times. There were many more attendees.