Peace in Asia and the Pacific: Alternatives to Asia-Pacific Militarization
Campaign/Movement Building Panel (Oct. 21, 19:30-)
Campaign for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons (shorter version)
Hiroshi TAKA – Japan Council against A and H Bombs
First of all, let me express my gratitude to the organizers for inviting me to this important conference and allowing me to speak before you.
My organization, Gensuikyo, was founded in September 1955, and working for some 55 years for a ban on nuclear weapons. We call ourselves the Japan Council against A and H Bombs in English, but more accurate translation is the “Japan Council for a Ban on A and H Bombs”. From the very outset, we have been calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons by legally banning all nuclear weapons.
New Signature Campaign for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons Launched
On Feb. 15 this year, we started a new campaign to collect signataures in support of an “Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons”. The appeal is calling for the start of negotiations on Nuclear Weapons Convention.
The 2010 NPT Review Conference agreed that “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” is a “goal” and “principle", and that all governments have to make “special efforts” to establish a “framework” for it. It also noted Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s five point proposal, including the “negotiation of a nuclear weapons convention”.
True, the final document did not overcome the intrinsic defect of the NPT that it does not have a timeline by which to fulfill nuclear disarmament. Nevertheless, we think that these agreed points include important steps forward. The peace movement should increase pressure on all parties to the treaty to implement their promise without any further delay.
We have made a good start. The campaign received support from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and High Representative Sergio Duarte of the UN, many leaders of international peace movement, Nobel laureates and other prominent people in academic, cultural and sports fields. Four weeks later, on March 11, huge earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant accident assailed eastern Japan, and the mood of the citizens changed. Yet, our campaign did not stop even in the disaster afflicted areas. We promoted the abolition campaign and the urgent rescue actions as a set of inseparable two tasks everywhere in Japan.
On Oct. 5 this month, we submitted the first achievement of the campaign, the 1,029,031 signatures, to the First Committee of the General Assembly. The signatures included 766 mayors, who represent about 44 percent of all Japanese municipalities. Our target in Japan is to build supported of the majority of citizens in each community. I invite you to support this campaign and join in it your our community.
Start of negotiations on Nuclear Weapon Convention is Possible Even Now!
The abolition of nuclear weapons is often referred to as a “long term goal” or “ultimate goal”. President Obama said in his speech in Prague that the US would “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”, but added that this goal would not be reached in his “lifetime.”
Achieving the abolition may take some time, but banning nuclear weapons does not. The reality under NPT is giving evidence. Of the 190 members to NPT, as many as 185 parties are already banning themselves from acquiring or developing nuclear weapons. Moreover, China, a nuclear weapon state, India and Pakistan, two non-NPT members having nuclear weapons, and even North Korea voted in last December in the UN General Assembly in support of the start of negotiations leading to Nuclear Weapons Convention.
There are even more new developments that we should note. Norway, Mexico and Austria together put forward a new resolution, proposing that work for a world without nuclear weapons be sought under the UNGA. Even British ambassador and Russian deputy ambassador admitted in response to our question that a treaty would become necessary to achieve a nuclear weapon-free world, though, they added, it would be “at a final state”. All these indicate that the start of actions to ban on nuclear weapons is possible right now, if only a handful nuclear weapons states make up their mind.
Action of Civil Society is the Key
To turn these conditions into reality, the civil society has the key.
On Oct. 3, UN High representative Sergio Duarte said something bold at the opening session of the Fist Committee. Referring the signatures presented to the 2010 NPT review conference, including 1 million by Mayors for Peace and our 7 million signatures, he said,
“As we consider these facts,…it is possible to observe two reinforcing trends… The first is the trend associated with the democratic revolution now sweeping the world, not just the Middle East. Evidence that democracy is coming to disarmament is indisputable in the actions I have just cited… And as democracy is coming to disarmament, so too is the rule of law.”
Japan should put an end to the hypocrisy
We also take action to press the Japanese Government to come up with a proposal for a total ban on nuclear weapons, as well as to support such resolutions as are proposed by Malaysia or by Norway. We also demand that Japan should get out of US “nuclear umbrella”. Japan’s call for the elimination of nuclear weapons, or even call on North Korea to abandon nuclear program sounds hollow, if Japan itself keep staying under US “nuclear umbrella”.
Before finishing my report, let me thank you for the warm messages and donation from overseas in support of the victims of the earthquake, tsunami and the simultaneous meltdown of nuclear reactors at Fukushima. Though, in this report, I concentrated on the nuclear disarmament issues, we do work intensely to press for the end to the reliance on nuclear energy and switch to the sustainable energy.