Dispatches from Nagasaki No.5

Japan’s first council for eliminating nuclear weapons involving a university, a prefectural government and a municipal government is formed in Nagasaki

(January 22, 2013) On October 4, 2012, an innovative framework for realizing the elimination of nuclear weapons was initiated in the atomic-bombed city of Nagasaki. This refers to the establishment of the PCU Nagasaki Council for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (or PCU-NC, hereby referred to as “the council”), which arose from the three-way cooperation of Nagasaki University, Nagasaki Prefecture and Nagasaki City. PCU is an acronym combining the first letters of the words prefecture, city and university. Never before in Japan has a council focused on the elimination of nuclear weapons involved a university, a prefectural government and a municipal government.

The opportunity for the formation of this council arose on April 1, 2012, the day that the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Nagasaki University (RECNA) came into being. While the prefectural and municipal governments in the atomic-bombed region of Nagasaki had previously engaged in various efforts autonomously, it was thought that the fruits of RECNA’s research efforts could be applied to develop new ways of working for the elimination of nuclear weapons involving residents of the city and the prefecture. The establishment of the council took place over two years, starting with discussions held by the three parties back when RECNA was still in its formative stages. It was noted that if these three parties combined forces, the potential to make international appeals for the elimination of nuclear weapons could be vastly improved. Nagasaki University Vice President Susumu Shirabe, who assumed the position of the council’s first chairman, voiced his high expectations when he said, “By joining these numerous voices together we can build a base for transmitting the sentiments of those in the atomic-bombed land to the world.”

The council will focus its efforts on (1) providing public lectures by experts and disseminating information, (2) nurturing human resources who will lead the next generation to work for nuclear weapons abolition, and (3) contributing to creating networks of peace and disarmament research institutes at home and abroad. As part of this agenda, the research staff at RECNA began providing public seminars in November of 2012. This provided a chance to consider specific issues related to nuclear weapons abolition from a number of different angles, such as “The Current State of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Disarmament”, “International Community and Conflicts”, “Citizens and NGOs around the World”, and “Passing the Legacy of the Atomic Bombing on to the Young Generation”. Furthermore, from December 7 to 10, 2012 the council co-sponsored international workshops and symposiums in Nagasaki and Tokyo on the topic of a Northeast Asia nuclear weapon free zone. These events were significant not only for fulfilling the council’s role of disseminating information to citizens, but also for assisting efforts to build a network connecting Nagasaki to organizations and institutions around the world.

As for the nurturing of young people, the council is now engaged in a novel effort. This refers to a project to send young people, especially university students, from Nagasaki to Geneva for the Preparatory Committee for the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which will be held in April and May of 2013. In Nagasaki, peace activities by high school and junior high school students have been flourishing for some time now. The activities of elementary and junior high school students were previously documented in an earlier report of Dispatches from Nagasaki (see release no. 2). Among high school students, the efforts made under the banners of Nagasaki Youth Peace Messengers and The Ten-thousand-Signature Campaign of High School Students have produced repeated successes. As for university students, however, comments are often made about how their presence is rarely seen. To counter this situation, the council worked with RECNA to develop a program aimed at producing young people of the age of university students who will have the ability to make international appeals for the elimination of nuclear weapons from both analytical and emotional perspectives. The delegation of young representatives will not only be observing the conference in Geneva, but also holding discussions with diplomats, NGO members and youth groups from other countries and working to expand a network of their own. Through preparatory study groups and post-participatory briefing events, the results of these efforts will be presented to the community at large in order to increase interest among members of the same generation and to create a base for subsequent activities in following years. The role of the council will be to assist the independent activities of the youths and to provide additional support from the sidelines.

For more detailed information on the council, please refer to /recna/pcu-nagasaki-council/

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