More than thirteen million Japanese citizens have signed a petition calling for the abolition of the world’s nuclear arsenals in what may be the greatest outpouring of support ever for creating a nuclear weapons free world. The petition is part of a global campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons called Abolition 2000, an international network of over 900 citizen action groups in 74 countries.
The signatures in Japan were collected in just three months, from November 1997 to January 1998, by members of the Soka Gakkai, a Japanese Buddhist organization long active on disarmament issues. On February 21, 1998, at a ceremony at the Memorial Hall of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the signatures will be presented to David Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and a leader in the Abolition 2000 campaign. The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is the International Contact for the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons.
“These signatures represent voices of the common people, people in Japan who know the devastation caused by nuclear weapons,” said Krieger. “The people are tired of waiting, they are tired of excuses. The Cold War is long over, and they want an end to the nuclear threat. They understand that the only way to do this is to eliminate nuclear weapons. They are sending a message to the rest of the world, and particularly to the leaders of the nuclear weapons states.”
According to Krieger, notice of the petition campaign will be provided to the leaders of all nuclear weapons states, and to delegates to the Preparatory Committee meeting of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference which will take place in Geneva from April 27 through May 8, 1998. Krieger also said that plans are being made to pass the 13 million signatures supporting Abolition 2000 to Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, and to Jayantha Dhanapala, the newly appointed UN Under-Secretary General for Disarmament.
“The nuclear weapons states are currently stalled in efforts to fulfill their promise in the Non-Proliferation Treaty to eliminate their nuclear arsenals,” said Krieger. “We are hopeful that these 13 million plus voices for nuclear weapons abolition will get them moving. There are still some 36,000 nuclear weapons in the world, and the only number that makes sense for humanity is zero.”
The Abolition 2000 International Petition calls for ending the nuclear weapons threat, signing an international treaty by the year 2000 to eliminate nuclear weapons within a fixed time period, and reallocating resources from military purposes to meeting human needs and assuring a sustainable future.
Petition drives are continuing in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, Netherlands, United Kingdom, the United States and other countries. The petition can be signed on the Worldwide Web at www.wagingpeace.org.