Toward a Nuclear Weapon-free World: Nuclear Weapon States’ Responsibility and Japan’s Role


Thank you for the opportunity to speak.  I want to thank also our friends in Hokkaido for the excellent preparation for this symposium.

When we heard the news of the G8 Summit taking place in Toyako, we thought that we should urge the government of Japan, as the only country that has been bombed by A-bombs, to push for the abolition of nuclear weapons.  We discussed it at our annual conference in February.  Our friends in Hokkaido put the idea into action.  They visited local governments, 180 of them, and asked for their support of the appeal to the Japanese government and through it to the G8 to move for the total abolition of nuclear weapons.  The support collected is from 101 mayors, 12 assistant mayors, 58 chairpersons of municipal assemblies, and many other leaders.

Many others throughout the country have responded to their action.  In local communities as far from Hokkaido as Shikoku and Kyushu, many mayors added their support and local assemblies adopted resolutions in support of our call.  I want to inform you, taking advantage of this opportunity, that the leaders of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and the International Peace Bureau, both Nobel Peace Prize laureates, and a renowned Christian peace organization Pax Christi have also formulated their demand to G8 in solidarity with our initiative.

Responsibility of the Nuclear Powers to Rid the World of Nuclear Weapons

It seems self-evident that the major tasks facing the human race at present include the elimination of nuclear weapons, peace, and preservation of the global environment, as well as the overcoming of neoliberal economy by which wealth is taken and transferred from the poor to the rich, and from the weak to the strong.  Regarding the issue of nuclear weapons, humanity once set out a solution in the closing year of the 20th century, when the Nuclear Five accepted the “total elimination of their nuclear arsenals” as their “unequivocal undertaking” at the NPT Review Conference in May 2000.

President Bush, however, put forward an obstacle, claiming that he found a “new threat”: “the “danger of terrorism” combined with the “danger of proliferation of WMD.”  Now we have the results.  There were no nuclear or chemical or biological weapons in Iraq.  Nor has there been any evidence that suggests a link between the then Iraqi leaders and terrorists.  Regarding Iran, about whose nuclear development tension still remains high, the Bush administration itself had to admit in a National Intelligence Estimate that it had no ground to say, at least since 2003, that Iran was developing nuclear weapons.  North Korea’s latest nuclear report, reciprocated by the US removal of North Korea from the terrorist list, also evidences that diplomacy is the only way to resolve the problem.

Nevertheless, the US administration has chosen to demonstrate its power by resorting to force.  The consequences are grave: the civilian dead in Iraq number almost 100,000; the number of “excessive deaths” in Iraq is estimated to be as many as 1,300,000; refugees inside and outside the borders of Iraq are 4,700,000.  Young people in the US and its allies who were sent to battlefields on LIES are also victims: the US military deaths have exceeded 4,000, and the wounded, 30,000.  Every fourth of those who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan now suffer from either depression or PTSD.  And still there is no way out.  Even on January 20, 2009, when Bush’s tenure will have expired, the US will still have 140,000 troops in Iraq, caught in a hopeless and never-ending quagmire.

Some weeks ago, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute announced that the world’s military expenditures for 2007 reached some $1.339 trillion.  The environmental destruction by wars and military expansion thanks to this huge amount of resources should also be highlighted as a serious problem.  Some 45% of the expenditures are made by the US alone, and Japan, the country whose Constitution declares that it renounces all war potentials, ranks 5th in its spending.

As regards what Joseph Gerson calls the “game of nuclear chicken,” the nuclear bargain between the US and the North Korea, there would have been no nuclear testing in October 2006 if they had sincerely sought a peaceful resolution from the beginning, without resorting to bluffs and intimidations.

I am not saying that the danger of nuclear proliferation does not exist.  However, of the 190 NPT member states, as many as 184 states have pledged themselves as “non-nuclear weapon states” under the treaty obligation of not developing and not acquiring nuclear weapons.  Besides, North Korea has agreed that it would renounce its nuclear option.  Though there are still three other nuclear powers — Israel, India, and Pakistan — outside the NPT, the abolition of nuclear weapons is possible even right now if the Nuclear Five make a decision.  All the more so because 95% of the nuclear weapons are in the hands of the mere two powers.

The true threat to security lies in this: that the nuclear superpowers that should bear the responsibility for world security are still claiming that nuclear weapons which do not even exist yet are dangerous while 26,000 existing weapons in the hands of the nuclear powers are the guarantee of security.  The two powers should fulfill their own responsibility.

Japan should fulfill responsibility as country that has suffered the atomic bombings.  The Japanese government has its own responsibility to fulfill as one that is bound by Article 9 of the Constitution and the Three Non-Nuclear Principles.

Some days ago, a report on the outcome of the G8 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting announced that Japan’s Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura called on all the nuclear weapon states for a cut in nuclear weapons.  I felt a slight relief.  Although the Japanese government set out “non-proliferation” alone as a theme for G8, voices of the grassroots finally found way to the government, at least to some extent.  But I was wrong.  I checked the report against the official text, which is in English.  The result was as foreboded.  The English text read:

“We welcome all nuclear disarmament efforts, notably the ongoing reductions of nuclear weapons that the nuclear-weapon States within the G8 have made so far, and call on all nuclear-weapon States to undertake such reductions in a transparent manner.”

With such heavy nuclear arsenals, able to annihilate the human race many times over, still being left in their hands, how is it possible for him to be satisfied and “welcome” the present state of “efforts”?

Japanese diplomacy is still that of a vassal state to the US.  It needs to open its eyes to understand that the world is changing.  George Shultz, the Secretary of State to President Reagan whom President Bush deeply adores, many other former Secretaries of State or Defense, and other politicians who have engaged in nuclear policy are now calling for “a world free of nuclear weapons,” which in turn is supported by their counterparts in the UK and NATO member countries such as Norway.

At such a juncture as now, it cannot be too hard for the Japanese government to behave more sensibly, by saying “No” to the obsolete and wrong policy of the Bush administration and by implementing the Japanese Constitution and the Three Non-nuclear Principles as they are, as suggested by Mayor Akiba on August 6 last summer.

Moving toward a Nuclear Weapon-Free, Peaceful, and Just World

The world is dynamically changing as it moves towards Spring 2010, when the next NPT Review Conference will take place.  The underlying dynamism is the fact that the present order of the small minority dominating the world by force can no longer be acceptable for the very survival of humanity.  The ongoing global warming, soaring grain and energy prices, the unbearable damage to human beings seen in Iraq and Afghanistan have all resulted from the pursuit of an unjust world order.

Nuclear weapons represent the “evil” in its worst form by which to support an unjust world order, by holding the future of the whole of humanity in hostage.  I sincerely hope that this symposium will call on the G8 Summit to take positive steps in attaining a peaceful and just world set free of nuclear weapons.  I want to take this opportunity to invite you to plan to join us in the 2008 World Conference against A and H Bombs, which will take place on August 2-9 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and build together global solidarity to open a new page in history.

Hiroshi Taka is the Secretary General of Gensuikyo (Japan Council against A & H Bombs).  This speech was delivered at the International Symposium for a Peaceful and Just World held in Sapporo on 5 July 2008.

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