(Mr. Hiroo Saionji) I’d like to start off with a question about the purpose of your visit to Japan this time. We hear that you are going to attend the fourth Nagasaki Global Citizens’ Assembly for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
(Dr. David Krieger) I’ve just come from the Nagasaki Global Citizens’ Assembly. That was the principal purpose for my visit to Japan. It was a very extraordinary conference. The idea of holding a Global Citizens’ Assembly was very appealing to me. I believe that citizens need to be awakened and become engaged in the issue of eliminating nuclear weapons. Until they are, it’s not likely that we are going to see real progress toward eliminating nuclear weapons. What happened in Nagasaki is a model for what could happen in many other places.
(Saionji) I was told that you were only 21 years old, Dr. Krieger, when you visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the very first time. At that time you visited the museums to see the devastation of those cities, and since then you have been involved in trying to eliminate nuclear weapons.
I do pay my deepest, deepest respect to many years of your endeavors, but I’d like to know how you felt when you first visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Since then you’ve been working on this very topic for, I take it, more than 40 years? And how do you feel now as well?
(Krieger) When I first visited the museums, I gained a different perspective. It was very different from what I’d learned about using the Bomb in my schooling in the United States. Basically what I’d learned in the U.S. was that the United States dropped those Bombs because it was necessary to achieve the Japanese surrender and to win the war. That’s the perspective from which the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are taught in American schools, and that was the education that I had. When I went to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I realized the extent of human suffering and death that was involved in the atomic bombings. Visiting the Peace Memorial Museums made it far more real to me. Also, it showed the other side of the story.
What I came to understand was that American way of educating about the Bomb was from a perspective of being above the Bomb. The perspective was that we made use of this new technology and we won that war. At the museums at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you could gain perspective from under the Bomb. I found that a far more compelling perspective and far more human perspective. I realized that what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki could happen anywhere. It was not acceptable as means of warfare to have the mass killing of civilians. It was a very strong experience for me to visit those cities and their museums. It was an awakening.
(Saionji) I see. Since having gone through that experience, I take it this has motivated you to be very active in trying to eliminate the weapons for the next 40 plus years. As a result, you have established the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation so as to educate people. Very, very briefly, would you let me know the activities of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation?
(Krieger) We have three major goals: 1) to abolish nuclear weapons; 2) to strengthen international law; and 3) to empower new peace leaders, particularly young peace leaders. The three goals are interrelated. It’s unlikely we will be able to succeed in abolishing nuclear weapons if we don’t make international law a stronger presence in our lives. And without a new generation of peace leaders, there won’t be anybody to carry on the struggle for a nuclear weapon-free world. To achieve these goals, we do a great deal of public education through lectures, conferences, speeches, books, newspaper and magazine articles, a great deal of outreach.
We also have links with like-minded groups around the world. We were involved in the establishment of the Abolition 2000 Global Network in 1995. We are one of the eight international organizations in the Middle Powers Initiative, trying to encourage middle-power governments to play a greater role in seeking the abolition of nuclear weapons.
We also give awards and hold contests. Most recently, we established a new short video contest on topics of peace and disarmament. We’ve recently started a new program, our Peace Leadership Program, in which we are trying to teach young people the skills of leadership related to building a peaceful world.
We have a long-standing contest in peace poetry, in which we encourage poets in three categories – adults, teenagers, and children – to submit poems related to peace and the human spirit. That’s been a very successful project involving the arts.
In addition to education, we also engage in advocacy, for example, with our Action Alert Network. We ask people to send messages to government leaders, primarily in the United States. We try to awaken interest, raise awareness and help people to become more active and engaged in critical issues of peace and disarmament.
Those are some of the things that we are doing at this time.
(Saionji) Well, having listened to that, I must say that there are close similarities in the direction that our Foundation is seeking with yours. And the approaches are very similar. At the Goi Peace Foundation, we’ve strived to realize peace inclusive of the activities you’ve mentioned. I’m struck by so much similarity both in the direction we are trying to head to as well as the approaches taken.
(Krieger) I hope we can find ways to cooperate more in the future.
(Saionji) Exactly, I feel the same.
As a grand premise, what is the most important in educating the people is to have the people know the truth, the reality that is in front of them.
This is related to former Vice President Al Gore’s book, An Inconvenient Truth, which is about global warming. You say, Dr. Krieger, that there’s something that’s far more important than global warming, which is the nuclear issue. So in order to educate the general public, what do you think is the very first thing that everybody should be aware of? And, at the same time, it seems that there could be a most important truth that many people are misunderstanding. Could you refer to those two points briefly?
(Krieger) The most important truth about nuclear weapons, or about the Nuclear Age in general, is that we’ve created weapons that are capable of destroying everything. I often refer to the term omnicide, a term coined by philosopher John Somerville, that means the death of all. With suicide, a person takes his or her own life. With genocide, the lives of a specific group are targeted. Nuclear weapons have created a possibility of omnicide.
I find that a powerful warning. We’ve created the tools of our own destruction. By our ingenuity as a species, we’ve created the devices that could destroy everything that’s been created, including all the efforts of over ten thousand years of civilization. And actually it’s more than that, because it’s not only humans and civilization that would be destroyed, but most complex life forms. I believe that if people really understood what is at stake and took that simple truth into their hearts, they would fight for a world without nuclear weapons.
Most people in the world are confused by the experts who talk about national security and make the issue very complex. The issue isn’t as complex as they make it and people don’t really need to defer to experts to know that nuclear weapons can destroy everything. In reality, nuclear arms are not even weapons. They are devices of annihilation and shouldn’t exist. So it’s our challenge as human beings to end this threat to human and other forms of life on our planet.
(Saionji) Well, you said that we don’t need to listen to the opinions of experts. But some of those experts say that nuclear weapons are going to be deterrents. How would you respond to those experts who say that these weapons are necessary as a deterrent?
(Krieger) Nuclear deterrence is at the heart of the problem. Nuclear deterrence has as a foundational understanding that an opponent will be rational. It requires rationality. In effect, deterrence is the threat of nuclear retaliation. A rational person would say, “All right, I don’t want to be attacked, so I won’t attack you.” But, we should ask the question, “Are all leaders rational at all times?” I think the answer to that question is clearly “No”. All leaders are not rational at all times. Deterrence doesn’t take this into account. That’s a major problem with deterrence. In fact, I think the theory of deterrence is irrational for exactly the reason that it relies upon rationality. It also doesn’t take into account the possibility of accidents or inadvertent use of the weapons.
Earlier I talked about a perspective from above the Bomb and from below the Bomb. I think there is a parallel here. Experts try to use complex, even mathematical, models to predict human behavior. But human behavior is extremely complex, even more complex than human experts can model. The so-called experts are trying to predict and provide advice that’s based on human behavior that is not completely understood and is out of their control. On the other hand, people should understand that nuclear weapons cannot really protect them. All they can do is to threaten to kill other people. If people really understood this, would they want to base their security on threatening to kill tens of millions or hundreds of millions of innocent people? Doesn’t it make sense that a better solution would be to eliminate the weapons and not face that dilemma?
(Saionji) I agree that the capability of nuclear weapons serving as a deterrent would work if the countries are going to be viewed as a country, but our world at present is becoming globalized, so that many of the issues we have at present cannot be resolved by looking at individual nations. We need a global perspective.
Compared to the time when A-bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the existing nuclear weapons have far more destructive capability. It’s said that they can destroy humankind several times over.
So what we need to think is not based upon individual countries, but upon the whole Earth. Maybe the theory of the deterrence could have had some place in the 20th century, but now we are in the 21st century, and in this 21st century as well as into the future I believe that the theory of deterrence is no longer meaningful.
(Krieger) I agree with your latter premise that the deterrence is no longer meaningful, but I am not sure if deterrence really was helpful in the 20th century. I tend to think that we survived the nuclear threat in the 20th century more by great good fortune than by the effectiveness of deterrence. As you know, we had many close calls and came very near to nuclear disaster. I think we were extremely fortunate and we cannot rely on that good fortune to last indefinitely.
But I agree with you totally on your main point that we are now entering into a global age. There are many problems confronting humanity, including poverty, hunger, health care, environmental degradation, and issues of terrorism. There is not one of these problems that can be resolved without global cooperation. No matter how powerful any single country is, it cannot solve global problems by itself. No country can rely upon nuclear weapons to protect it in an island of prosperity in the midst of a world with the kinds of serious problems that our world faces.
(Saionji) I agree exactly with what you said. I wasn’t trying to justify that deterrence was that effective in the 20th century, but more to contrast that now in the 21st century it is far more meaningless compared to the 20th century. I was not trying to justify that in the 20th century deterrence was working.
Coming back to deterrence once again, some say that a very, very rich person would build a nuclear shelter for themselves so that they themselves would be protected. What an absurd story that is!
(Krieger) I’m glad you clarified your remarks with regards to deterrence in the 20th century. The reason I raised that point was exactly because there are many policy makers in the United States and other places who say we need to move toward a nuclear weapon-free world, because deterrence is not as valuable now as it was in the 20th century. I think this position only justifies their own behavior during the time when they were policy makers. And I think it’s appropriate to challenge that position. Deterrence was problematic in the 20th century and remains so now.
(Saionji) Let me continue a story about a shelter. It is in Voluntary Simplicity written by Duane Elgin. He talks about the activist Dr. Helen Caldicott, because she said what would happen if the nuclear weapons were used, what tragedy is going to follow.
Even a very, very rich person with a beautiful nuclear shelter, if his city is a target of a bombing, even if he is in a shelter, there will be flames that would eat up all the oxygen, so whoever is in a shelter is going to die because of suffocation. Even if the bombing struck far away in the community, and he makes it to run into the shelter, he would have to stay there for at least two weeks. Otherwise there will be very strong radiation that he would be exposed to.
But if you have to stay for more than two weeks, he is going to lose his mental senses. Even let’s say he survives the first two weeks, and comes out good, there will be no doctors, no hospitals, no food, and water will be highly irradiated and contaminated. Maybe the ozone layer itself is destroyed, so he is going to have third-degree burns if he is exposed for three minutes. Thus, the whole earth is going to be burned out, and in order to avoid all of that, they will have to stay underground for five years. But even so, he is probably going to have leukemia or he is going to have typhoid fever or polio or all the other diseases which more or less have been eradicated so far.
So it’s not a matter of who is the enemy or who is your ally. This is so powerful a weapon that once it’s used, it’s not only that individual or state that is the victim. It is going to destroy the whole Earth. That’s something we have to have everybody be aware of.
(Krieger) I have a personal experience I’d like to share with you. This happened during the 1950s. I remember very clearly sitting around the dinner table with my parents. We were discussing bomb shelters, and my mother said, “I would rather die than go into a bomb shelter.” That was very surprising for me to hear at that time. But she said that’s no way to live. It’s no way to live, in fear and in a little shelter underground. At that time, people were talking about needing guns to keep neighbors out of their shelters. Looking back, I think my mother was quite wise. There are some ways of living that aren’t worth living. If you have to shoot your neighbors, and have an illusion that you can survive underground from nuclear weapons, that’s completely the wrong approach. Anybody who thinks the bomb shelters will save them is delusional. They are certainly not rational. The better strategy for those people and for everyone is to work for the elimination of nuclear weapons, rather than just trying to save themselves.
(Saionji) I agree with you exactly. I think we are showing the common understanding that we have no other point that we want to pursue but to eradicate nuclear weapons. Then comes the issue of how do we approach that. That’s an issue on which I would like to exchange some opinions.
Why don’t you start, Dr. Krieger, by telling us the vision, or what are the steps you intend to take to eliminate nuclear weapons? Of course, we do know what your Foundation is up to on these activities, but probably you could share how you would like to go by looking at different nations, different legal systems, and other systems as to how you can attain the goal of abolition.
(Krieger) I think there are three levels that we have to think about. At the highest level, the goal needs to be a Nuclear Weapons Convention, a treaty for the phased, verifiable, irreversible, and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons. That’s the goal. At that level, states do need to come together and agree upon what’s included in the phases, how the verification system works, how to make it irreversible, and how to make it transparent, while still maintaining the security of all states in a process. So that’s one level.
But getting to that level involves dealing with various states as you suggested. I think we have to first require the nuclear weapon states to give an accurate accounting of their nuclear forces. Second, I would require states to prepare environmental and human impact statements that would reveal to the public what will happen to other human beings and to the environment if their nuclear weapons are used. Third, I think we should require each state with nuclear weapons to prepare its own roadmap for going to zero. In other words, what would they need to go to zero. That’s the second level, dealing with individual nuclear weapon states and with the states that have a capability to develop nuclear weapons.
The third level, the most foundational level, involves people all over the world. That’s the level where we work the most. We can suggest a vision of what needs to be done, but until there is a strong citizens’ movement throughout the world for the elimination nuclear weapons I don’t think political leaders will feel the necessary pressure to move with the sense of urgency toward a nuclear weapon-free world.
We try to continue refining the vision of how global nuclear disarmament can come about, but the most important work we should do is educating people everywhere about the necessity of eliminating nuclear weapons and encouraging their engagement in pressing in an active way for the goal of abolition.
I don’t mean to imply that this needs to be a very long process. Technologically, nuclear weapons could be dismantled and eliminated within a period of 10 years. What’s missing is the political will to change, and that’s where a large number of people need to enter into the discussion, and engage in political action to achieve that goal.
(Saionji) I cannot agree more with what you said. With regard to the first two levels of the three levels you’ve referred to, even if you are successful in coming out with the Convention, a law or social system that is going to be better than we have, there’s no guarantee whatsoever that people are going to honor them all the way into the future. Therefore, I would say the most important is your third level, which is to change the awareness and the mentality of each and every one of us who lives on this Earth.
I do recall that Dr. Krieger you have written about this somewhere, looking at the activities of democratization like the example of the Berlin Wall in the former East and West Germany. It was the change in the mentality of each German who came together to achieve the major change in destroying the Berlin Wall.
So the democratization type of campaign and activities are necessary. To take another example of the non-smoking movement, even though there were dozens of reports that smoking induced lung cancer, not the federal government nor the state government nor the city government take any action. Of course, we know that there was strong pressure from the cigarette companies.
But why has the country changed? It is because there have been changes in the awareness of the people towards smoking. That was at a basis of the foundation to change the position of the government. If you really wanted to have the nuclear-free world, what we need to do is to change the awareness and mentality of the people. Otherwise, it will not be assured for eternity into the future.
(Krieger) I completely agree. The idea of the necessity of changing thinking has honorable routes, going back to Albert Einstein who made his famous statement that “[t]he unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” This statement was made early in the Nuclear Age, and I think it is very prescient and very wise. Until there’s a shift in thinking among large numbers of people, we probably won’t see the change that we are seeking.
The challenge that we have, and I think that humanity has, is to how to bring about a change in thinking. Basically, it is a matter of education and persistence. Sometimes there’s a shift in thinking beneath the surface, and it’s only when circumstances are right that the shift in thinking becomes apparent. This was the case with the Berlin Wall, with the break up of the Soviet Union, and with the ending of Apartheid in South Africa. Those things didn’t just happen on the spur of the moment. There was a lot of work that was going on, like an underground stream, which eventually broke to the surface. The power for change was there beneath the surface. In a sense, that’s an act of faith. Doing this work is an act of faith, because we don’t know what the results will be, but we do know that the problem is serious enough that it demands our attention. I often feel that the work that we do to achieve a world without nuclear weapons will eventually succeed, but it’s necessary for me not to expect immediate results and to keep working in the belief that those results will come.
(Saionji) How do we change the way of thinking? Of course, there are different ways like education, public awareness campaigns and such. However, if we think of how we can really change the mentality and way of thinking of the people, we need to go back to the fact of how much money has been spent to prepare for wars as well as for the military budget. In a year, more than $1 trillion U.S. dollars is spent for military budgets around the world.
Is this $1 trillion plus being used for the sake of mankind? No, I think it’s a negative expenditure, because all that money that’s spent on military budgets to prepare for war is not serving the interests of mankind.
If you look at my diagram, you can look at the society and the economic aspects, those on macro and micro levels, as well as towards science, medicine and effects toward human beings, both direct and indirect, for the physical as well as for the mental and spiritual, as well as the effects towards environment, in regard to the oxygen, pollution, toxic substances as well as ecology. In short, if we look at more than $1 trillion being spent to prepare for war and for military budgets, I don’t think a single cent is being used for the benefits of mankind. That is something that everybody should be aware of, that so much money is being spent for a negative purpose.
If the $1 trillion is not going to be used for military budgets, that means we can eradicate the negative side of the story. But let’s turn the story around, so that the funds are going to be used positively for the welfare of mankind. They could be used for education, eradication of poverty, food, clean water and disaster relief. Let’s say the soldiers are going to be unemployed, but they can be turned around to be engaged in relief activities or to rehabilitate the damaged environment, and so on. And the welfare expenses will be utilized for medicine and education. As a result, we abate the negative use and use it positively. If you are able to do so, that goes to providing so much help in resolving the major issues that we face. I think we need to take that kind of macroscopic view. What I wanted to add is that as long as we take the macroscopic view, mankind is facing so many varied issues. However, we do have the way to solve them.
(Krieger) I completely agree with your analysis. When you look from a macro point of view, nuclearism is the problem, but it is embedded in the larger problem of militarism. Nuclear threats are one manifestation of it. Nuclearism happens to be a manifestation that can destroy humanity, so it has special importance.
But in terms of changing thinking, I think it is a very good idea to focus on the extraordinary amounts of money that are largely being wasted throughout the world for military purposes. Actually, the figure that I’ve heard is closer to $1.5 trillion. I saw some statistics recently that said if we took only between five to ten percent annually of what is spent globally on the military, we could meet all eight of the Millennium Development Goals’ targets for the year 2015. There is no doubt that we are using our resources for the wrong purposes.
If we want to think about security, we shouldn’t be thinking only about military security. Primarily we should be thinking about human security, which would require a reallocation of resources from a model of military security to a model of security threatened in various ways by illness, pollution, poverty, hunger, etc. There is a way we can solve those problems and provide security if we use some of our resources on them.
I think it’s fair to say that where we put our resources is where our values reside. It is important to help people everywhere understand that allocating all that money to the military reflects values that don’t honor human rights. First of all, the military is primarily a killing machine. Second, you have missed the opportunity of helping people who really need help now.
One of the figures that is worth noting is that the United States alone spent $7.5 trillion on its nuclear weapons and delivery systems from the beginning of the Nuclear Age. This enormous amount of money has been diverted from socially beneficial programs into making weapons that hopefully will never be used again.
(Saionji) I would like to come up with something like a textbook, or part of a textbook, a part which could be put, and edited into a textbook, in which it could be a joint collaboration with you, Dr. Krieger. Because of all the “inconvenient truths,” we would need to do a good job of accurately analyzing the situation, and expressing it in a way that is easy to understand, whether by the children or just ordinary plain people.
(Krieger) I’d be happy to collaborate with you on such a project. This takes us back to some of our earlier comments on common sense. Everything that you are talking about here is common sense. It should be easy for people to understand. Also, using An Inconvenient Truth as a model, it might be a good idea to also prepare a video so that it’s easier for people to get the information.
(Saionji) Yes, we can think of many other media, in terms of how to distribute the message. But what I would want to stress is that I would want as many people as possible to have an accurate understanding of what we call common sense, the simple common sense. That’s why I have referred to it as a textbook. It could be video, or it could take other form as well. Also, I serve as mentor of Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, so we could probably collaborate with them as well. It would be the mission to diffuse the message to as many people as possible, especially to the children, the importance of the common sense we share.
One of the pillars of UNESCO’s activities is to carry out ESD, which is its Education for Sustainable Development program, and that’s the basic education that they like to render in order to create the sustainable Earth – sustainable in terms of peaceful, and would include all subjects we’ve talked about. If you talk about sustainable society, all the problems we’ve discussed would be included. I believe that’s a basic message that we need to communicate to all the people.
(Krieger) I agree.
(Saionji) Yes, when we were talking about the education of children earlier, you mentioned “peace leaders.” Could you elaborate a bit about “peace leaders”?
(Krieger) We are trying to reach as many people as possible, particularly young people, and teach them about peace and about leadership. When I say peace, I mean it in a broad sense, because peace requires justice and human security. We want young people to have a sense that they can contribute to making a better world. There are things they can do and things that they need to know in order to make a contribution.
In addition to education about the issues, we are also trying to teach leadership skills. Most young people don’t have any training for leadership. There is no place for learning how to lead in school, so we are trying to encourage young people to develop skills such as organizing, goal setting, public speaking and public outreach – various skills that are required for leadership.
One of the things we observe is that most leadership is hierarchical. In the military or in a corporation, there are very hierarchical leadership methods. Such leadership is very easy to implement when a higher ranking person tells a lower ranking person what to do. But with peace leadership, you don’t have any hierarchy. It’s a harder form of leadership, because you cannot order somebody to do something, and you cannot fire them if they don’t do it. You have to convince them from your heart that something is worth doing. You have to sustain the interests of the people you want to follow. It is very challenging to help people to develop leadership skills in working for peace. But that’s our goal.
It’s very interesting that we have a young person who is leading our program who was a West Point graduate. West Point is the United States Military Academy. He went through West Point and served in the army for seven years after graduating. During that period, he wrote and published a book on peace titled Will War Ever End? He has written a second book on peace that’s going to be published soon. We think we are very fortunate to have that young man, who has leadership training in the military but wants to apply that training to the challenge of developing peace leaders.
(Saionji) Yes, we do put importance in education, so here again is another area that we would like to further step up our collaboration, especially in the Peace Leadership Program you have mentioned. I hope that we shall be able to share and exchange more information about the Peace Leadership Program, and activities that we do as well. It would be very nice if the young man you have referred to, who is a graduate of West Point, would come to Japan one day and speak to the people here in Japan.
(Krieger) I would love to see that happen.
(Saionji) You have been working to eliminate nuclear weapons for the last 40 years. But I don’t think the elimination of nuclear weapons in itself is an ultimate goal that you have set forth. When I read your books and other articles you have written, it is clear that just by eradicating nuclear weapons it is not going to make the world perfect or end up in a nice peaceful world. So what’s your image of a peaceful world? And how would you set that as your vision?
(Krieger) That’s a great question. First of all, I totally agree that a world free of nuclear weapons is not necessarily a peaceful world, although I believe it would be a better world. By eliminating nuclear weapons in the world, we would have eliminated the most urgent threat to humankind and to the future of life. But, of course, that’s not the end. We need to build a world that is fair for all people, that gives all the people a chance to live their lives fully. We need to create a world in which there are not a few people living in extraordinary luxury, as at the present, while billions of people are living without enough food, without safe drinking water, without health care, without education. There’s something terribly wrong with our humanity if we allow those conditions to continue.
We can readily identify one of the primary areas that needs to change if we are going to solve the problem of gross inequality in the world. That is redistributing the large military budgets to positive uses. I strongly believe that we have to keep working for a more just and decent world. That’s an obligation of all of us on our planet. If you have the privilege to live in a place where you are not wanting for food, where your human rights are being protected, where you already have a decent life, there is responsibility to help others who are less fortunate on our planet.
We need to take our responsibilities, learn to think globally, become better world citizens, and speak out on these issues of inequities and injustice, and not allow them to be buried from view. We need to make these issues transparent, and we need to work to change them. Eliminating nuclear weapons is getting rid of a big threat hanging over humanity. Then we can concentrate on the many things we need to change in a positive direction.
(Saionji) I just want to share with you the Declaration for All Life on Earth, that is by our Foundation, in which people, animals, and plants all have the responsibility to support the Earth. Furthermore, we have four guiding principles: 1) reverence for life; 2) respect for all differences; 3) gratitude for coexistence with all of nature; and 4) harmony between the spiritual and material, in which regardless of different ethnicity, or countries, there are common values that could be shared by all the people on Earth.
I know we are running out of time, so this will be the last question. Having had the discussion this morning, I would like you to refer to what each individual can do in order so that he or she shall make a contribution to creating a world free of nuclear weapons.
(Krieger) In looking at this Declaration for All Life on Earth, I appreciate its overall sentiments. What particularly catches my interest is the Age of the Individual, not in the sense of egoism, but an age in which every individual is ready to accept the responsibility. That’s something I have believed in for a long time – along with rights, go responsibilities. I am happy to see that responsibility is there.
What responsibility can individuals take with regard to nuclear weapons? I think responsibility lies primarily with the citizens of nuclear weapon states, the countries that have nuclear weapons. But in broader sense it’s a problem for all humanity. People need to cut through the seeming layers of complication, and get to the level of understanding that these weapons do not promote life and are really instruments of death on a massive scale, a scale beyond anything that we can easily imagine.
One of the challenges is just to imagine what nuclear weapons are capable of. Beyond that, people need to speak out, they need to communicate with their political leaders, they need to not accept simplistic solutions from political leaders, but rather to challenge reliance upon these weapons.
Individuals need to themselves become agents of change. First, they need to learn, then they can teach other people, their friends and acquaintances. The last thing, I think is the need to persevere and persist in seeking the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. I think everybody has different talents. Some people are fine singers, some people can write, some people can teach. Whatever a person’s talent happens to be, I would like to see them use their creativity to put that talent to work for a nuclear weapon-free world. I cannot tell them how to use their talents, but I know everyone has some talent that they can use. My main point is that people need to raise the priority of the nuclear issue, and understand the urgency of solving this problem, so we can move on and solve the many other serious problems that deserve our attention.
(Saionji) Thank you very much. It was a very wonderful discussion, and thank you so much for your contribution to our Foundation.
(Krieger) Thank you, it was a pleasure talking with you.
Hiroo Saionji is President of the Goi Peace Foundation (www.goipeace.or.jp) founded in Japan in 1999. The Foundation is dedicated to supporting the evolution of humanity toward a peaceful and harmonious new civilization by promoting consciousness, values and wisdom for creating peace, and by building cooperation among individuals and organizations across diverse fields, including education, science, culture and the arts. Mr. Saionji is the great-grandson of Prince Kinmochi Saionji, who was twice Prime Minster of Japan during the Meiji Period. He also serves as the president of the World Peace Prayer Society, a member of the Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, an Ambassador of the World Wisdom Council, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for Cultural Heritage and Art Research, among others. In 2007, he was awarded the Cultural Prize of the Dr. Lin Tsung-i Foundation of Taiwan, in recognition of his contributions to world peace. He also received the Philosopher Saint Shree Dnyaneshwara World Peace Prize of India along with his wife Masami Saionji in 2008.