Yayoi Tsuchida: Let’s Build Powerful Campaign to Render the World Nuclear-free

Towards 2020, the 75th Year of the A-bomb tragedies,

Let’s Build Powerful Campaign to Render the World Nuclear-free

While the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons(TPNW)is expected in the near future, the danger of new nuclear arms race is increasing. What actions do we take towards 2020, the year marking the 75th anniversary of the A-bombings?  This is a challenge before us

Any use of single nuclear weapon would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences as evidenced by the damage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The nuclear powers, however, are pushing ahead with their so-called “nuclear deterrence” policies, which bring the humanity on the brink of extinction.

The Trump Administration set out new “Nuclear Posture Review”, aimed at developing small nuclear weapons and lowering the threshold of nuclear weapons use. It also pulled out of the Iran Nuclear Deal (JPCOA) and now the INF Treaty unilaterally. In response, Russian President Putin suggested the development of a new-type of nuclear weapons and missile deployment in its allies’ territories. China, too, is engaged in the increase of nuclear warheads. These developments are eliciting growing concern about resurgence of the past nuclear arms race between super powers.

However, I am confident that the global trend for peace against nuclear-weapons will never allow such a countercurrent to prevail.  We have the TPNW in hands. It in itself piles the heaviest pressure on nuclear powers. Besides, we have the power of the movements and public support that has given birth to the TPNW, as well as broad cooperation with like-minded governments.

The outrageous demeanor of the US and other nuclear powers are arousing criticism anew. Herein lies new momentum building up in public opinion and movement. Following the adoptions of joint resolutions calling on the US government to join the TPNW by the State Assembly of California state and then the Council of Washington DC, a resolution that calls on the US government to support the “TPNW” and make nuclear disarmament a central focus of US national security policy was submitted to the US Congress recently. In Australia, a nuclear umbrella state, the Labor Party decided that it would join in the TPNW when it takes power. The possibility of achieving denuclearization and peace of the Korean Peninsula was opened up by mounting public opinion for peace and against nuclear weapons in this region and the rest of the world.

Those governments which have supported and promoted the TPNW are also making intensive effort to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons with a sense of urgency. If we can develop this momentum, we are sure that we can defeat such dangerous rollbacks. We have such potential in our hands.

When the TPNW was adopted in the UN, I vividly remember that Setsuko Thurlow, a Hibakusha, said “We are in the point of no return”.  Nuclear powers cannot reverse the global current from heading for a world without nuclear weapons. With this conviction, let’s take actions worldwide.

Although Japan is the only A-bombed country, Abe government has taken shameful attitude, unabashedly refusing to sign and ratify the TPNW.  Before the NPT PrepCom started, we visited the Japanese foreign ministry. They did not even hesitate to say that a change in the Korean situation towards denuclearization and peace was brought about by the US nuclear deterrence. Needless to say, we all severely condemned this comment.

In order for Japan to be protected by US extended deterrence, including nuclear, Abe government is rushing to make Japan a war-fighting country through the reinforcement of Japan-US military alliance, the reinterpretation of the Constitution to have resort to the “collective self-defense”, legislation of war laws and state secrecy law, the new base construction for the US Marines in Okinawa, and the revision of the Constitution. Throwing away the position of exclusive defense, it has been promoting unconstitutional military buildup, as seen in the record-high defense spending, transformation of the Izumo-class destroyers to aircraft carriers and bulk-buying of F35 stealth fighters. The people are left to bear the burden through consumption tax rate hike and cutoff of welfare.

However, changes are occurring in Japan, too.

The number of collected signatures in support of the Hibakusha Appeal for the elimination of nuclear weapons has exceeded 9.41 million. The endorsements of the Appeal by mayors/governors in Japan have reached 1205. Anti-nuclear and peace organizations, which had worked separately before, are now developing joint work beyond their differences of opinion. There was not such cooperation before. A total of 359 local assemblies, more than 20% of all municipalities in Japan, have adopted resolutions calling on the Japanese government to sign and ratify the TPNW. Even conservative council members of the ruling parties sometimes work together for the adoption of them on local level.

The Hibakusha Appeal international signature campaign aims at colleting hundreds of millions of petitions worldwide by 2020. Together with the Hibaksuha, we are going to do the utmost to develop this campaign in and out of Japan. We sincerely ask you to cooperate with us in promoting the signature campaign in your countries and communities from now towards 2020.

The enhancement of public opinion and movements in Japan made the Abe government give up submitting a bill for the revision of the Constitution to the session of the Diet last year.

With the victory of Denny Tamaki being elected as Okinawa governor, Okinawan people’s opposition to the construction of a US military base in Henoko has achieved new advances in the struggle to stop outrages of the Japanese and US governments.

Expecting that from this year towards 2020, we will enter crucial stage over entry into force of the TPNW and the 2020 NPT Review Conference, we are calling for developing magnificent movements contributing to achieving a world without nuclear weapons. Especially in Japan, we have to build up such a movement strong enough to make the Japanese government join the TPNW and take nuclear free and peace policies.

Also in the NPT process, nuclear powers are working to undermine its past achievements. It is serious that the US and other nuclear weapon states are trying to deny the commitments which their own countries have once accepted, such as “unequivocal undertaking” to “accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals”, agreed upon at the 2000 NPT Review Conference) and “special effort to establish necessary framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons”, agreed upon at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Making light of obligation of negotiating the elimination of nuclear weapons will lead to the collapse of the NPT. Towards the 2020 NPT Review Conference, we have to defeat their attempts and make them implement their obligations and commitments.

In order to open up the way to the abolition of nuclear weapons, we propose to enhance public support and movements drastically from this year in each country and make the occasion of the 2020 NPT Review Conference a rallying point of worldwide actions.

We are encouraged to hear that friends of the US, Europe and IPB have already proposed a concrete action plan. In particular, we welcome and support the idea of holding in New York an international conference like the World Conference against A and H Bombs.

Since the first one being held in 1955 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the World Conference against A and H Bombs has upheld the 3 main goals: Prevention of nuclear war, a ban and the elimination of nuclear weapons and support for the Hibakusha, A-bomb victims. It has mobilized movements and individuals of the world who support these goals and worked together with like-minded governments. It is greatly significant that inheriting its basic spirit, the world conference will be held in New York, the major city of the US nuclear power. I was very impressed by this plan. I will do our utmost in Japan so that the Hibakusha and a broad range of Japanese movements can work together for a success of the planned actions.

The year 2020 marks the 75the year of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The earnest desire of the Hibakusha is to “get nuclear weapons abolished in our lifetime”. Let’s work together to achieve the entry into force of the TPNW and make the opportunity of the 2020 NPT Review Conference a point of decisive turn for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

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