Letter from Japan: On the Start of the New Signature Campaign in Support of Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons

Dear friends,
First of all, I want to express my gratitude to you and all the other friends in Japan and overseas who have given us support in preparing to launch the new signature campaign.
At present, when we will soon see the 66th Summer of the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the world is rapidly changing in terms of nuclear weapons.  With our actions in New York, or in many other cities around the world, the NPT Review Conference in May last year declared it as its goal “to achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”, and called on all states to make “special efforts” to establish a framework for it, focusing on the proposal of UN Secretary General Ban KI-moon for the start of negotiations on a convention banning nuclear weapons.

The outcome of the session of the UN General assembly towards the end of the last year also showed a change.  Nearly all member states voted in support of a resolution that urges full implementation of all past agreements on nuclear disarmament.  The resolution calling for the start of negotiations on a nuclear weapon convention, put forward by Malaysia and many others, enjoyed support from 133 countries, including China, India and Pakistan, which possess nuclear arsenals, and even North Korea.

Now that the voice calling for a ban on nuclear weapons represents the majority in international politics, and that the Secretary General of the United Nations is appealing that we should, with Hibakusha, “celebrate the end of nuclear weapons”, the peace movements around the world should rise up in action in solidarity to make next steps forward, and the initiative for it should be taken here in Japan the only A-bombed country, with the Hibakusha - this is what we have thought.  Thus, we have planned a new signature campaign in support of the “Appeal for a total ban on nuclear weapons”, which we are now launching in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and here in Tokyo.

Having drafted the appeal, we have sent it to leaders and influential people in different fields both in Japan and around the world to seek their endorsement and comments.  Their responses were wonderful.
Internationally, we have received supports and messages from, first of all, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his High Representative Sergio Duarte, Nobel laureates Jody Williams and Mairead Maguire, and international networks and national and grassroots peace groups, such as the International Peace Bureau, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and its International Campaign. The number of leading people overseas who have endorsed the “Appeal” has reached 170, representing 12 international networks and 118 peace organizations operating in 31 countries.

We are also receiving endorsement from prominent people in many different fields, leaders of organizations, and mayors, governors and local council leaders.  Eleven prominent personalities willingly agreed to our request that their names and portraits appear in a campaign poster.  They are Mr. Sumiteru Taniguchi, a leader of the Hibakusha movement, Messrs. Tadatoshi Akiba & Tomiichi Taue, the mayors of Hiroshima & Nagasaki, Nobel laureates Kenzaburo Oe and Toshihide Masukawa, Yoji Yamada, the film director, Isao Harimoto, a baseball player who has the record of 3000 hits, Jakucho Setouchi, a leading Buddhist nun and writer, Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, popular singers of Kumiko and Chitose Hajime, all that we know for their prominence. There are many more prominent personalities whose names every one of us knows.
Many local government leaders with nuclear-free declaration municipalities and/or Mayors for Peace also support the campaign. The endorsers now include 4 prefectural governors, 123 mayors and 73 municipal council chair- or vice-chair persons.  The number of municipalities they represent is 162 in 31 prefectures.  This represents already nearly 10% of all Japanese municipalities.

What is delightful for us, above all, is that among the endorsers there are Hibakusha and many citizen movements leaders who have supported with us the Japan’s anti A-and H-bomb movement in its long history.  Please find the names of all endorsers in the distributed to you to day.

We will promote the signature campaign, which we are launching, in solidarity and in cooperation with all the other campaign in Japan and overseas that stand in support of a ban on nuclear weapons, such as Mayors for Peace and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

To achieve a world without nuclear weapons, the citizens around the world must exercise pressure on their own governments, both in nuclear and non-nuclear powers, in solidarity and cooperation with one another.  We must also urge the Japanese Government to stand in the forefront in the same endeavour, as one that represents the only A-bombed country.

Placing the desire of the people in the signatures, we will send a delegation to the United Nations around the beginning of October every year, when the UN begins disarmament deliberations, to submit them to the United Nations.

The key word of our action is, as it was at the time when our nationwide movement against A and H Bombs was founded as response to the tragic incident wrought by the Hydrogen bomb test at the Bikini Atoll on March 1, 1954, “With All People in the Region”.

Now, by reading out the text of the “Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons”, I declare the start of the international signature campaign that will form our next step in achieving a world set free of nuclear weapons:

Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons
In August 1945, two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki instantly turned the two cities into ruins and took the lives of about 210 thousand people.  Even now, more than 200,000 Hibakusha, or A-bomb survivors, are carrying with them scars.  Their tragedy should not be repeated anywhere on earth.
The call for the elimination of nuclear weapons is becoming ever widespread across the world.  Citizens are taking actions, and many governments are endeavouring to reach this goal.  The surest guarantee against there being another Hiroshima, or Nagasaki, is a total ban and the elimination of nuclear weapons.
In May 2010, the 189 parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), including the Nuclear weapons States, agreed “to achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”.  Now is the time to act to accomplish it.

We call on all governments to enter negotiations without delay on a convention banning nuclear weapons.
To sign the petition, go to this website