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2010年8月 9日 (月)

原爆投下65年―連帯し核廃絶のゴールへ 新しい風が吹いてきた。

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 6
EDITORIAL: 65 years after Hiroshima.
原爆投下65年―連帯し核廃絶のゴールへ 新しい風が吹いてきた。


U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos attended the peace memorial ceremony Friday in Hiroshima to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the city's atomic bombing.

This is the first time for the ambassador of the country that dropped atomic bombs to attend the ceremony. Two other nuclear powers, Britain and France, sent their acting ambassadors to the ceremony for the first time.

After visiting Nagasaki the previous day, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also attended the ceremony in Hiroshima, marking the first attendance by the head of the world body.

The Hiroshima municipal government has been sending invitations to the ceremony to nuclear powers for 12 years. At long last, its efforts are bearing fruit.

Invitation to Obama

In a speech delivered in Prague in April 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed his determination to create "a world without nuclear weapons." Never before has the momentum for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation been as great as it is now.

We must take advantage of the trend to encourage moves for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

A hibakusha survivor of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima has been sending letters to Obama.

In January 2009, Akihiro Takahashi, a former director of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, sent a letter to the president soon after his inauguration. "Please visit Hiroshima ... we should make your visit to Hiroshima the beginning of a new age of reconciliation for all humankind," it read.

Under the George W. Bush administration, moves toward nuclear disarmament stopped. Takahashi sent the letter expecting the new president to take a different course.

After the Prague speech, Obama took steps to advance nuclear disarmament. He led the Group of Eight summit to issue a statement on nuclear disarmament in July 2009. In April, the United States released the Nuclear Posture Review, signed a new treaty on nuclear arms reduction with Russia and hosted the first Nuclear Security Summit. Each time Takahashi learned of the developments, he wrote a letter. So far, he has written four letters.

"What hibakusha want is not nuclear disarmament. What we want is absolute denial and abolition of nuclear weapons," he wrote.

On Aug. 6, 1945, Takahashi, then a second-year student at a secondary school in the prewar schooling system, was in the schoolyard 1.4 kilometers from ground zero. He suffered severe burns on more than one-third of his body, including the back of his head, the back, both hands and feet. A shard of glass stuck in his finger, causing his nail to grow deformed and turn black. The nail is displayed in the museum.

Takahashi wants Obama to visit Hiroshima and see what happens after a nuclear weapon is used. Takahashi believes a visit by Obama would be a step forward in abolishing nuclear weapons.

This feeling must be shared by the 220,000 hibakusha across Japan whose average age is 76.

If Obama stands on the site where many lives were instantly lost, it would be the strongest message toward building "a world without nuclear weapons."

Idealism and realism

However, we don't think Obama shares the same motive for a nuclear-free world as the survivors of the atomic bombings.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States, fears of nuclear terrorism grew. The danger of terrorists gaining access to nuclear weapons became a major security concern, giving rise to the following logic: If terrorists get hold of nuclear weapons, the nuclear deterrence would no longer work. If so, it would be safer to abolish nuclear weapons.

This logic is very different from the humanitarian appeal by hibakusha who see nuclear weapons as "an absolute evil."

"Even so, as long as the goal is the same, we should join hands," Hideo Tsuchiyama, a former Nagasaki University president who survived the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, said.

For that, "we need to appeal both emotionally and logically," Tsuchiyama stressed. Testimonies by hibakusha awaken people's feelings for the need to abolish nuclear weapons. But that is not enough.

We must also be able to logically explain the need to abolish nuclear weapons in a forum of international politics to win the understanding of international society.

Up to now, the idealism to eliminate nuclear weapons embraced by the country that suffered atomic bombings and the realism of the nuclear deterrence advocated by nuclear powers never came together. There is also the reality that Japan is protected under the U.S. "nuclear umbrella."

The will of civil society, including hibakusha, has never been reflected in the extremely political problem of nuclear strategy. Idealism and realism seemed destined to remain far apart forever. But now, a tiny contact point is about to form.

The attendance by U.S. Ambassador Roos at the Hiroshima ceremony is symbolic. However, the U.S. State Department explains that Roos' attendance is aimed "to express respect for all of the victims of World War II." It has no choice but to consider U.S. public opinion, which continues to be dominated by arguments that justify the atomic bombings.

Treaty to ban nuclear weapons

To prevent the anti-nuclear trend from becoming just a passing summer fad, we must work out a process for the abolition of nuclear weapons and lead it to actual policy. Moreover, we need to form a net to encircle nuclear powers through persistent diplomatic negotiations.

For example, the final document of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons in May referred to the idea of a treaty to ban nuclear weapons for the first time.

There are already treaties to ban chemical and biological weapons, and moves to abolish them are making progress. The idea is to create a similar treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

Referring to the final document, Douglas Roche, honorary chairman of the international nongovernmental organization Middle Powers Initiative and a former Canadian ambassador for disarmament, said such a treaty is on the table of international debate. He is calling for preparations for international negotiations.

A draft treaty that serves as a model was released in 1997 by NGOs, such as International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

The United States and other nuclear powers have maintained a passive stance. But now that the situation surrounding nuclear weapons has dramatically changed, interest in this treaty, which is indispensable in realizing the abolition of nuclear weapons, is growing. We should take steps to set conditions needed to advance preparations.

Treaties to ban anti-personnel land mines and cluster bombs were established thanks largely to lawmakers of a number of countries who cooperated with NGOs to appeal to their governments. We should make use of this experience for nuclear weapons.

Using the actual damage of atomic bombings as a starting point, a network should be built comprising not only the government but also experts, local governments, NGOs and citizens. We should also cooperate with countries that share these aspirations.

As the only country to have suffered atomic bombings, Japan must take the lead.


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