The Fifth Nagasaki Global Citizens’ Assembly for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons was held November 2-4, 2013 in Nagasaki. Citizens of Nagasaki continued their tradition of convening such Global Citizens’ Assemblies, which they have held every few years since the year 2000. I have been privileged to have been a participant and speaker in all five meetings as an invited guest of the city of Nagasaki, and to have participated in the drafting of all the Nagasaki Appeals.
The 2013 Nagasaki Appeal is an extraordinary document. It reflects the spirit of Nagasaki, the second of two atomic bombed cities on the planet, and the desire of its atomic bomb survivors to assure that Nagasaki remains the last city ever to suffer such a tragedy. I believe the Appeal should be read by every citizen of Earth and studied by young people everywhere. I’d like to share with you some of its highlights.
The Appeal begins with good news and bad news. It points out that over 50,000 nuclear weapons have been eliminated in the past quarter century (good news), but that 17,000 remain, only a small number of which could end civilization and most life on Earth (bad news). It expresses concerns that repeated delays by the nuclear weapons states in fulfilling their commitment to nuclear disarmament under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) “has discredited the nonproliferation regime and may destroy it.” Such a consequence would indeed be very bad news.
The Appeal takes note of the nuclear power accident at Fukushima, Japan in March 2011: “The fear and suffering of Fukushima citizens for their health and life renewed our recognition of the danger of radioactivity, whether from nuclear weapons or nuclear energy. The experiences of Fukushima and the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima have shown us that the effects of nuclear disasters are uncontrollable in time and space.”
Despite “daunting challenges,” the Appeal finds there are reasons for hope, among which is the renewed international attention to the devastating humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons. It also found that reliance upon nuclear deterrence for national security is “delusional,” in a world in which human security and global security are threatened by nuclear weapons.
The Appeal calls for a series of concrete actions, including commencing negotiations on the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons; the US and Russia taking unilateral and bilateral nuclear disarmament measures; phasing out of reliance on nuclear weapons in the security policies of all countries; having greater citizen participation in nuclear abolition campaigns; establishing new nuclear weapon-free zones; aiding the victims of Fukushima; and learning the lesson that humanity cannot continue to rely upon nuclear energy any more than it can rely upon nuclear weapons.
The Appeal also offers some specific advice to the Japanese government based upon its special responsibilities as the world’s only country to be attacked with nuclear weapons. These responsibilities include: coming out from under the US nuclear umbrella; providing leadership to achieve a nuclear weapon-free zone in Northeast Asia; demonstrating leadership for nuclear weapons abolition; and seeking and welcoming international assistance in controlling the radiological crisis at Fukushima.
The participants in the Nagasaki Global Citizens’ Assembly pledge to continue “utmost efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.” It is a necessary goal for humanity and for the future. It is the great challenge that confronts all of us living on the planet in the Nuclear Age. Nagasaki is doing its part to lead the way. They need our voices and our commitment to succeed.