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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 December 6 - 12  > Nobel Peace Prize Award ceremony major milestone toward achieving world without nuclear weapons
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2017 December 6 - 12 TOP3 [PEACE]

Nobel Peace Prize Award ceremony major milestone toward achieving world without nuclear weapons

December 12, 2017

Akahata editorial

The ceremony for the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for its efforts to have the UN treaty banning nuclear weapons adopted took place in the Norwegian capital of Oslo on December 10. Atomic bomb survivors (Hibakusha), citizens of the world, and governments of non-nuclear-weapons nations welcomed and congratulated the NGO's prizewinning afresh.

Civil societies gain growing global recognition

Along with ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn, Setsuko Thurlow, a Hibakusha residing in Canada, made a speech at the ceremony. The Hiroshima Hibakusha in her speech called for untiring efforts toward abolishing all nuclear weapons by saying, "I repeat those words that I heard called to me in the ruins of Hiroshima: Don't give up! Keep pushing! See the light? Crawl towards it." Hibakusha, with their indescribable experiences of the bombings, never give up moving toward "the light" of "a world without nuclear weapons". Such a way of life has clearly motivated world citizens, diplomats, and politicians into action.

Together with Hibakusha, civil societies also fulfilled their decisive role in realizing the UN nuclear weapons prohibition treaty. A government representative addressed a UN conference discussing the treaty, saying, "I would like to thank members of civil society who have been active for years or even decades. Your dedicated efforts, expertise, and patience have now gathered us together here." It would not be too much to say that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to all the people and Hibakusha who have worked tirelessly at the grassroots level.

The five major nuclear-weapons states, however, did not show up at the ceremony. These countries insist that the international situation needs nuclear deterrence, refusing to join the treaty.

These forces clinging to nuclear arms will face ever-growing anti-nuke campaigns. Commenting on ICAN’s winning of the award, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, “This Prize recognizes the determined efforts of civil society to highlight the unconscionable humanitarian and environmental consequences that would result if [nuclear weapons] were ever used again.” Civil society’s role and potential are gaining greater international recognition.

Collaboration between governments and civil societies, which the World Conference against A and H bombs has long worked to foster, will further develop. Global movements for “a world free from nuclear weapons” are taking a new step forward.

Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo) Vice Secretary General Wada Masako on November 10 met with Pope Francis and requested that he lend a hand with the Hibakusha-led international signature-collection campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The meeting between the A-bomb survivor and the leader of the Roman Catholic Church with its 1.2 billion members worldwide received international attention. The Hibakusha-led signature-collection campaign is expected to expand beyond differences in religions, ideologies, and political stances. An increase in international public awareness and movements is becoming more and more important in determining the future course of the world.

Only A-bombed country’s stance called into question

Based on the horrible memories of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese government should urge nuclear weapons states to decide to take actions to eliminate nuclear weapons. Japan must make serious efforts to depart from reliance to the U.S. “nuclear umbrella”. However, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s government is opposed to the UN treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. It proposed to the last UNGA a resolution that takes the side of nuclear weapons states and aims to put off the N-ban treaty to the future, receiving criticism from many countries.

In order to push the Japanese government to comply with international obligations as the government of the only A-bombed nation in the world, the general public needs to keep raising their voices and strengthen movements to urge the government to sign and ratify the UN nuclear weapons ban treaty.
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