Japanese peace activists take part in pre-NPT events

A group of the Japanese delegation organized by the Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Japan Gensuikyo) on April 29 held a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. to explain the urgency of the call for the abolition of nuclear weapons on the occasion of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

On behalf of the group, Kimura Isamu, secretary of the Fukuoka Prefectural Council against A and H Bombs (Fukuoka Gensuikyo), explained the Gensuikyo delegation's mission, "In order to achieve the swift abolition of nuclear weapons, we will urge all the parties to the NPT, especially the nuclear-weapons states, to take concrete steps to fulfill the 'unequivocal undertaking' promised unanimously at the 2000 NPT Review Conference by all the nuclear-weapons states to totally eliminate their nuclear arsenals."

Along with the delegation's representatives, Peter Kuznick, director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University, Daniel Ellsberg who is known as a whistle-blower of the Pentagon Papers (U.S. government lies about Vietnam War), and Dennis Nelson, down-winder of the Nevada nuclear test site, were present. John Steinbach of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Committee, a Washington D.C. area peace group, moderated the news briefing.

Japan Gensuikyo groups made up of 320 activists visited Hanford, Nevada, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. in smaller groups before converging in New York.

On the same day, more than 100 Japanese who had already arrived in New York took to the streets of Midtown, Manhattan to collect signatures calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. They collected more than 500 signatures within an hour.

On April 30, all 840 delegates converged on New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine to attend a Japan Gensuikyo-sponsored open symposium. While many tourists were visiting the world's largest gothic cathedral, which is still under construction, panelists discussed the challenges of nuclear weapons abolition as well as of the NPT. Maged Abdelaziz, Egyptian ambassador to the United Nations, Jacqueline Cabasso of the Abolition 2000, and Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee spoke as panelists with Takakusagi Hiroshi, Japan Gensuikyo secretary-general, as the moderator.

On May 1, about 40,000 people, including the Japanese delegation, marched in demonstration through the streets near the U.N. headquarters to Central Park. Hiroshima City Mayor Akiba Tadatoshi and Nagasaki City Mayor Itoh Iccho as well as Hibakusha from both cities led the Japanese marchers, calling on passers-by to sign the petition. As of May 1,5,038,108 signatures have been collected.

At Central Park, demonstrators formed a human peace sign and participated in the "No Nukes! No Wars!" rally co-sponsored by Abolition Now! and United for Peace and Justice grassroots-based organizations. Hiroshima Hibakusha Tsuboi Sunao and Nagasaki Hibakusha Shimohira Sakue spoke about the tragedies they experienced, and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki mayors gave speeches. - Akahata, May 3, 2005

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