Humankind has senselessly engaged in wars repeatedly throughout history. However, even during wartime there are certain unacceptable actions. Under current international humanitarian law, it is regarded as a criminal act to kill or injure children, mothers, civilians, injured soldiers, or prisoners of war. Moreover, the law unequivocally bans the use of poisonous gases, biological weapons, anti-personnel landmines and other inhumane weapons that indiscriminately cause suffering to people and significantly impact the environment.
On August 9, 1945 at 11:02 a.m., a single atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki by a United States bomber. The intense heat rays caused by the bomb charred the bodies of many victims. Blast winds, strong enough to bend iron rails, tore apart the bodies of many others. Skin hung off of naked bodies. Mothers carried their headless babies. People who looked healthy died one after another. In that year alone, the atomic bomb took over 74,000 lives and injured another 75,000. Those who survived have continued to suffer a higher incidence of contracting cancer and other serious radiation-induced diseases and, even today, they still live in fear.
Why haven’t nuclear weapons, capable of indiscriminately and inhumanely taking so many lives and causing a lifetime of anguish for those left behind, been banned yet?
In November 2011, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a movement that has long observed the cruelty of warfare, adopted the humanitarian-based resolution “Working towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.” In May 2012, the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference was held in Vienna. At the session, representatives of many countries cited the inhumanity of nuclear weapons, and a Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Dimension of Nuclear Disarmament was presented on behalf of sixteen countries. At long last, calls to define nuclear weapons as inhumane have grown louder, in line with what the people from atomic-bombed cities have long been vocally demanding.
However, what is the situation we are facing today?
There are over 19,000 nuclear weapons in the world. People all over the world live with the danger that a nuclear war could break out at any moment. I ask you, what would happen to humanity if a modern nuclear weapon, far more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were to be used?
To ensure that Nagasaki is the last city ever to be a victim of a nuclear attack, it is essential to definitively ban not only the use of nuclear weapons but everything from their development to their deployment. A new approach is required that goes beyond the confines of the existing Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and we have already determined several methods of doing so.
One method is the Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC). In 2008, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed the need for the NWC. For the first time, the NWC was mentioned in the Final Document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference. The international community must act now by taking the first concrete steps towards concluding the NWC.
The creation of Nuclear Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZ) is another realistic and concrete method at our disposal. Most of the lands in the Southern Hemisphere are already covered by these zones, and this year efforts are being made to organize a meeting to discuss the creation of a Middle East Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone. To date, we have repeatedly called on the Japanese government to work toward the creation of a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone. Along with enacting the Three Non-Nuclear Principles into law, the Japanese government must promote efforts such as these, address the serious challenge presented by nuclear weapons in North Korea, and demonstrate leadership as the only atomic bombed country in the world.
In April 2012, the long-awaited Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (RECNA) was established at Nagasaki University. RECNA is expected to serve as a hub for networking and disseminating information and proposals pertinent to the abolition of nuclear weapons. With the establishment of RECNA, we here in Nagasaki are determined more than ever to further our work to fulfill the mission tasked to us an atomic bombed city.
Reaching out to the youth is vital in realizing a world without nuclear weapons. Starting tomorrow, the Global Forum on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education will begin here in Nagasaki co-sponsored by the Japanese government and the United Nations University.
Nuclear weapons were born out of distrust and fear of other countries as well as the desire for power. Nagasaki will also be emphasizing peace and international understanding education to help create a world where future generations can live in a society based on mutual trust, a sense of security, and the notion of harmonious coexistence.
The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. shook the world. We here in Nagasaki will continue to support the people of Fukushima as it brings us great sorrow that every day they still face the fear of radiation. In addition to speeding up restoration of the affected areas, we call on the Japanese government to set new energy policy goals to build a society free from the fear of radioactivity and present concrete measures to implement these policies. We cannot postpone the issue of the disposal of the vast amount of nuclear waste generated from operating nuclear plants. It is up to the international community to cooperate and address this problem.
The average age of the remaining atomic bomb survivors now exceeds seventy seven. We ask once again of the government to listen to the voices of those suffering with utmost sincerity and make efforts towards the enhancement of additional support policies.
We offer our sincere condolences for the lives lost in the atomic bombings, and pledge to continue our efforts towards the abolition of nuclear weapons hand-in-hand with the citizens of Hiroshima and all people in the world who share our goal for a nuclear free world.