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HOME  > Past issues  > 2011 July 27 - August 2  > 2011 World Conference for a total ban on nuclear weapons
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2011 July 27 - August 2 TOP3 [ANTI-N-ARMS]

2011 World Conference for a total ban on nuclear weapons

July 27 and 28, 2011
The 2011 World Conference against A & H Bombs begins on August 3 in Hiroshima. Yasui Masakazu, secretary general of the Japan Council against A & H Bombs (Japan Gensuikyo), spoke with Akahata on July 26-27 on the features of this year’s conference as follows:

International situation

The NPT Review Conference in May last year decided to “achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” The present task for the international arena is to realize this objective and work to start negotiations for a convention banning nuclear weapons.

In the U.N. General Assembly meeting last fall, a draft submitted by Malaysia, calling for “multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion” of a convention banning nuclear weapons, was adopted with the support of 133 nations, or two-thirds of all member states, including nuclear weapons possessing China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea.

In May this year, the ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) proposed a high-level meeting to determine concrete ways to achieve the total elimination of nuclear weapons. NAM is the major current working for peace made up of 118 countries.

The organization Mayors for Peace, with mayors from more than 4,800 cities in 151 countries and regions worldwide, is conducting a signature campaign urging international leaders to begin negotiations for a nuclear weapons-free world.

If nuclear weapons states are to act in response to the international consensus and demand, it is possible for us to move forward for the total abolition of nuclear weapons.

Grassroots opinion

The outcome of the NPT Review Conference and the following achievements have been brought about by Japanese and international anti-nuclear movement led by Hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On the occasion of the NPT Review Conference, nearly 1,600 Japanese people took part in the international joint action in New York. They delivered nearly 7 million signatures to the front of the U.N. headquarters.

We hope that this year’s World Conference will be an opportunity to create a wider public movement to take us to the next step, the start of international negotiations for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

The event will be an important occasion for us to bring together the experiences of local anti-nuclear movements and further promote the international signature campaign, “Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons,” which we launched in February this year. At the stage of the World Conference, we will directly submit the signatures collected throughout Japan to U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Sergio Duarte.

The international campaign has been supported by a wide range of people inside and outside Japan, including U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Domestically, more than 1,000 heads of local governments and chairs of local assemblies expressed their support of this signature campaign as of July 24.

Fukushima nuclear crisis

The nuclear accident in Fukushima has a significant meaning to our movement, which is rooted in the radiation exposure of victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The World Conference has consistently promoted its support to and solidarity with victims of U.S. and Soviet nuclear tests and their nuclear weapon factories as well as those affected by the Chernobyl disaster.

In this year’s conference, we want to move one step further by calling for a shift to renewable energy from nuclear power generation. We are inviting activists from Germany and Italy where their governments recently declared an end to their nuclear energy programs.

In Japan, the government long underestimated the effects of radiation exposure. However, Hibakusha have in recent years finally won consecutive victories in their court struggles to have the government recognize their diseases as caused by A-bombings. Their struggle has forced the Health Ministry revise its criteria for recognition of A-bomb-related diseases.

Hibakusha in Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be joined by nuclear victims from other countries during the conference, where they will discuss how they have struggled against nuclear damages.

Participants from disaster-hit region

Representatives of the 3.11 disaster-hit region will speak at the World Conference. Amid the difficult post-disaster conditions, local Gensuikyo branches are sending 30 representatives from Iwate, 48 from Miyagi, and 57 from Fukushima prefectures.

The 3.11 massive earthquake, tsunami, and the following nuclear accident have made clear that we should no longer spend our wealth, resources, and technologies for limitless military buildup and financial speculation. We should rather start utilizing them for peace, environmental conservation, improvement of people’s living conditions, and support to poor nations, in other words, for creating a peaceful and just world in accordance with the U.N. Charter.

The abolition of nuclear weapons is a task for all of us to work to eradicate the most direct threat to the existence of human beings. Therefore, we would like to build a wider movement of cooperation to achieve this.
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