Dispatches from Nagasaki No.25

Nagasaki Peace Declaration 2018

Again this year, on August 9 Mayor Tomihisa Taue read out the Nagasaki Peace Declaration.
(https://nagasakipeace.jp/english/appeal/archives.html : 11 languages)
(https://nagasakipeace.jp/content/files/appeal/2018/english.pdf : English version)
For this first time, the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony was attended by the incumbent UN Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres. After first recalling the catastrophes wrought by the atomic bombings, Mayor Taue expressed the United Nations’ expectations regarding the abolition of nuclear weapons, emphasizing the significance of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted by the United Nations last year. He then strongly requested that the Japanese Government support the Treaty, towards which it has maintained an oppositional stance. In addition, welcoming recent developments in the North Korea situation, Mayor Taue expressed expectations for the realization of a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NEA-NWFZ).

Next, Mayor Taue expressed in the words of Mr. Sumiteru Taniguchi and Dr. Hideo Tsuchiyama— longtime leaders of Nagasaki’s anti-nuclear movement who passed away last year—the importance of the young generation who have never experienced war never forgetting the pacifism of the Constitution of Japan, which opposes the tragedy and misery of war. He also emphasized the importance of individual Nagasaki citizens contributing towards peace efforts. Finally, in closing the declaration, Mayor Taue touched on the practical issue of providing relief for those who “experienced atomic bombings” but are unable to receive assistance because they are not recognized as hibakusha—despite their being thought to have been harmed due to the atomic bombings—as well as the people who are still suffering as the result of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

With regard to the Treaty, in addition to the Nagasaki Peace Declaration strongly requesting the Japanese Government to sign and ratify the treaty, UN Secretary-General Guterres also strongly insisted that Japan should completely support the Treaty, expressing his concern about the current stagnation in nuclear disarmament efforts and calling on the nuclear weapons states in particular to promote nuclear disarmament. At the same time, UN Secretary-General Guterres praised the hibakusha, saying, “The survivors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the hibakusha, have become leaders for peace,” and presenting a stance of pouring all effort into the abolition of nuclear weapons, declaring, “Let us all commit to making Nagasaki the last place on earth to suffer nuclear devastation.” In response, President Toyokazu Ihara of the Society of Hibakusha Certificate Holders of Nagasaki Prefecture said that the Secretary-General’s words had given him “strong expectations,” and President Tamashii Honda of the Nagasaki Surviving Families Association also commenting that he thought the Secretary-General” was a “very progressive thinker,” both welcoming Mr. Guterres’s words. (10 August 2018 edition of The Asahi Shimbun) Dr. Tatsujiro Suzuki, Director of RECNA also commented that Mr. Guterres’s message of ‘making Nagasaki the last place on earth to suffer nuclear devastation’—which clearly steps into the territory of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons— has been spread widely throughout the world. This is extremely meaningful.” (10 August 2018 edition of The Asahi Shimbun)

In contrast, however, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who also attended the ceremony, said not even a word regarding the Treaty during his address (http://japan.kantei.go.jp/98_abe/statement/201808/_00003.html), and to the representatives of the atomic bombing survivor groups with whom he met, he again displayed a stance of rejecting Japan’s participation in the Treaty, stating that the Japanese Government intended to take a different approach towards achieving the abolition of nuclear weapons. (10 August 2018 web edition of The Nagasaki Shimbun) In response, President Shigemitsu Tanaka of the Nagasaki Atomic-bomb Survivors Council said that, “If Japan does not take the lead in abolishing nuclear weapons, it should not be called the ‘only country to have experienced atomic bombings. The hibakusha are being ignored” (10 August 2018 web edition of The Nagasaki Shimbun). Chairman Koichi Kawano of the Liaison Council of Hibakusha, Nagasaki Peace Movement Center, said, “[The Japanese Government’s] statements are inconsistent. They have absolutely no real intention of abolishing nuclear weapons.” (10 August 2018 web edition of The Nagasaki Shimbun). Furthermore, President Ihara said, “The government’s approach is mistaken. As matters currently stand, Japan cannot possibly seize the initiative in the abolition of nuclear weapons.” (10 August 2018 web edition of The Nagasaki Shimbun) Strong voices of criticism were raised one after the other, centered on hibakusha. Even Mayor Taue said, “It was disappointing that I could not hear a positive statement” (10 August 2018 web edition of The Nagasaki Shimbun). Thus August 9, this year was a day on which the gap between the wishes of Nagasaki—one of the cities that experienced atomic bombings—and the Japanese Government’s security policies was clearly visible.

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