In the first years of the 21st century the prospects of nuclear weapons proliferation and use have dramatically increased. As the last city to suffer a nuclear attack, Nagasaki is committed to reversing this dangerous trend and making progress towards a nuclear weapons-free world.
The 21st century began with a chain reaction of violence and retaliation. In September 2001 terrorist attacks took place in the United States. The Afghan war followed, and then the Iraq War began in March 2003 on the pretext that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Meanwhile, the Bush Administration has reviewed its nuclear posture and promoted new policies for nuclear weapons use. Also, North Korea is conducting brinkmanship diplomacy using nuclear weapons development as a lever. We find that the intentions of various countries to give a new role to nuclear weapons will considerably hinder any progress towards their elimination.
In this context, we global citizens have gathered again in the A-bombed city of Nagasaki three years after the 1st Global Citizens’ Assembly for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, in order to listen to the heartfelt pleas of Hibakusha and to be inspired by the enduring passion of the Nagasaki citizens’ commitment to the elimination of nuclear weapons.
After 58 years, many Hibakusha continue to suffer from secondary illnesses caused by nuclear radiation, in addition to their initial physical injuries and emotional trauma wrought by the atomic bomb. Also, the second and third generation Hibakusha live in constant fear for their health. While enduring these hardships, they have sustained their efforts to develop strategies and build a movement to realize the elimination of nuclear weapons. Hibakusha have not been passive victims. They have critically analyzed, exposed hidden intentions and harshly criticized, as follows, the arguments put forward by those in authority who justify the possession and development of nuclear weapons.
Nuclear weapon states have tried to obscure the true nature of nuclear weapons by hiding them within the phrase ‘weapons of mass destruction’. They argue that non-proliferation is a priority and reject nuclear disarmament. Especially, the US has undertaken research to develop small nuclear weapons and ‘bunker busters’, and is preparing for the resumption of nuclear tests, using the pretext of the ‘war against terrorism’. They imply that small nuclear weapons are merely extensions of conventional weapons, thus lowering the barrier to their use. Do they think that they now have free reign to do anything they want in the name of the so-called ‘war against terrorism’? This thinking will undoubtedly be imitated by other countries bringing with it the spread of nuclear weapons to even more countries. How can a country strengthen its own nuclear arsenal, while seeking to prevent nuclear proliferation by others? Moreover, where is the commitment by the nuclear weapon states to ‘an unequivocal undertaking $B!D(B to the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals’ adopted at the NPT Review Conference in May 2000? The US has acted in bad faith, and has violated the spirit of this commitment by pursuing new nuclear weapons.
We global citizens strongly feel that all nuclear weapon states, declared and undeclared, and those countries that rely on the nuclear umbrella of others, should honestly and sincerely answer these direct questions from Hibakusha. Whatever justifications are offered by the nuclear weapon states, the weapons must be denounced as illegal and immoral by the people of the world.
After three days of intense discussions in Nagasaki, we found hope in the constant resolve of the Hibakusha and in the vigor of today’s youth. As global citizens, we sincerely appeal to the people of the world to:
- Call for an end to the cycle of violence and retaliation; now is the time to delegitimize war.
- Ensure that nuclear war will be prevented, especially in the flashpoints of the Middle East, South Asia and Northeast Asia, including the Korean Peninsula.
- Establish nuclear weapon free zone or areas free of weapons of mass destruction as a contribution to the prevention of nuclear wars and further nuclear proliferation.
- Stop the trend towards the development of new types of nuclear weapons, policies for their use, missile defenses and weaponization of space.
- Support those raising their voices in protest across the world and especially in the United States.
- Continue building a large international citizen movement to abolish nuclear weapons in anticipation of the NPT Review Conference to be held in New York in 2005.
- Press governments to adopt concrete steps to achieve nuclear abolition so that the 2005 NPT Conference will be an epoch-making event.
We are greatly encouraged by the decision of the Mayors for Peace to initiate an ‘Emergency Action Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons’. Its success depends on civic activities in cities all over the world. We urge citizens to cooperate with their mayors to forge strong international support for this campaign at the 2005 NPT Review Conference. In order to achieve this, international solidarity with Nuclear Free Local Authorities is vital.
We believe that Japan, as the only A-bombed nation, has a special role to play. We fear that a tendency among Japanese politicians to blindly accept nuclear weapons has increased. We must continue to listen to the urgent pleas of Hibakusha to end dependence on nuclear weapons and to exert credible leadership for nuclear abolition in the international community.
Finally, in anticipation of the 2005 NPT Review Conference and the 60th anniversary of the US atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, we call on citizens everywhere to work with their political leaders in national and local governments to create strong public support for banning nuclear weapons for all time.