Dispatches from Nagasaki No.13

The voices of Nagasaki citizens opposed to the new security-related legislation

Seventy years after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, the survivors and most of the citizens of Nagasaki City have continued to maintain strong hopes for a world that is peaceful and safe, and have conducted all manner of activities aimed at achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. The following is a compilation of the views that Nagasaki’s citizens are expressing about the new security-related legislation proposed by the Abe administration.

A Peace Ceremony is held in Nagasaki each year on August 9, the day of the atomic bombing. The Mayor of Nagasaki City reads out the Nagasaki Peace Declaration at this ceremony. The last meeting of the Drafting Committee was held on July 11, at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, to finalize the wording of the declaration. The opinions of the 15 people composing the Drafting Committee were as follows. According to the July 12 edition of the Nishinippon Shimbun, the main newspaper of Kyushu, five of the members requested that Nagasaki’s “deep concern” [about the Abe administration’s proposed legislation] be mentioned in the Declaration, and nobody opposed this suggestion. In the same article,  Masao Tomonaga, who is Director General Emeritus of the Japanese Red Cross Nagasaki Genbaku Hospital emphasized that: “As a city that suffered an atomic attack, it is logical for us to demand that Japan does not rely on deterrence, even if they are conventional weapons.” (July 12 edition of the Nishinihon Shimbun). On the same day Hiromichi Umebayashi, ‎Director at the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Nagasaki University(RECNA), told the Mainichi Shimbun: “An overwhelming number of constitutional scholars are saying that the proposed legislation is unconstitutional. The public are extremely concerned that the bill will pass and become law without any meaningful discussion of it having taken place.” In the same article, atomic bomb survivor and former president of Nagasaki University said: “The government must cautiously and thoroughly listen to the views of the Japanese public.”

On July 15, the security-related legislation was passed by the House of Representatives with a majority backed by members of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, and now goes on to the House of Councillors. In response to the government’s actions, on July 14 a collection of peace groups and others collected in front of Nagasaki Station where around 650 participants held a meeting and chanted slogans. Former President of Nagasaki University Hideo Tsuchiyama also expressed his concern at the behavior of the Abe administration. On July 12, the prefectural league of the Democratic Party of Japan was joined by Yoshiaki Takagi, a DPJ Diet member, at a rally in the center of Nagasaki City where they denounced the new legislation and demanded its repeal. And on the afternoon of July 15, five hibakusha groups sent a written protest to Prime Minister Abe, describing the way the legislation was steam-rolled through parliament as an insult, and demanding that it should be repealed. Details of this can be seen at the following link on the NCC (Nagasaki Culture Telecasting Corporation) website: http://www.ncctv.co.jp/news/7376.html).

Mr. Tsuchiyama told the Asahi Shimbun on July 16 that in order to ensure that the legislation is repealed, “We have to tell as many people as possible about the dangers that are now imminent.” Toyoichi Ihara, the Chairman of the Nagasaki Prefecture Atomic Bomb Survivors Health Book Holders, issued a rallying call, saying: “In this the 70th year after the bombing, we are approaching the first year of a new era of war. Let’s preach peace from Nagasaki, and make absolutely sure we get this legislation repealed.” Meanwhile, on July 16, Kouichi Kawano, Chairman of the A-bomb-exposed Liaison Council, Nagasaki Prefecture Peace Movement Center told nationwide news channel NHK: “I feel really sick that this legislation has been pushed through. Politicians ought to look at the people who voted them into office and pay more attention to the voices of the electorate.” (NHK News web: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20150716/k10010153741000.html )

The media has also published many reports on the activities of young people regarding the security legislation. The July 16 edition of the Mainichi Shimbun quoted a 23-year old woman, Saori Ichijima, as saying, “Recently, more and more young people are joining the opposition movement. I want to be a part of the movement and make my voice heard.”  In the same July 16 NHK news web article quoted above, Mr. Morisawa, an 18-year old prep school student who participated in a demonstration, told NHK, “I want to ensure that the peace that had been safeguarded by my parents and grandparents is passed down to future generations. I also believe that politics should promote amicable relations with other nations instead of promoting military might.” With a sense of anxiety about the legislation, numerous youth groups have started to pursue opposition activities. N-DOVE, a group launched by students in Nagasaki Prefecture, is actively disseminating information using SNS applications. On July 25, they held a demo to stop the passage of the security-related legislation, with the estimated participation of 350 people. Mr. Ryosuke Tsutsui, a 21-year old Nagasaki University student enrolled in the Faculty of Economics and an N-DOVE member, told the Nagasaki Shimbun, “The extension of the Diet session has increased our concerns that the legislation will be passed. I believe that holding a demonstration at the site of the atomic bombing on the 70th anniversary of the end of the war is a significant act.” (July 16 edition of the Nagasaki Shimbun: http://www.nagasaki-np.co.jp/news/kennaitopix/2015/07/16092014017912.shtml). The N-DOVE Facebook page provides updates on their next demonstration, scheduled for August 23 (https://www.facebook.com/ndovepeace/timeline).

On the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing, August 9, 2015, the Hibakusha representative Mr. Sumiteru Taniguchi and Nagasaki City Mayor Tomihisa Taue read out the Peace Declaration. The details of the security legislation were included in the ceremony. In his speech of August 9, Mr. Taniguchi said, “After the war, a Constitution was enacted in which Japan promised to the world that it would never wage war or take up weapons again. However, the government is about to bring Japan back to the wartime period by enforcing the approval for exercising the right to collective self-defense and by pushing ahead with amending the Constitution. The national security legislation being pushed through by the government will lead Japan to war. It will rip up from their roots the movement and philosophy built up by many people seeking peace, including hibakusha, to abolish nuclear weapons. It is absolutely unforgiveable. Nuclear weapons are cruel and inhumane weapons that the people of the world overwhelming believe should be abolished forever. In his speech, Mayor Taue called for careful deliberation on the security legislation, saying, “The Diet is currently deliberating a bill which will determine how our country guarantees its security. There is widespread unease and concern that the oath which was engraved on to our hearts 70 years ago and the peaceful ideology of the Constitution of Japan are now wavering. I urge the Government and the Diet to listen to these voices of unease and concern, concentrate their wisdom, and conduct careful and sincere deliberations.”

As can be seen from all the above, the media has published many reports of citizens in Nagasaki who have voiced their opposition to the security legislation.

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