NAGASAKI — Nearly 200 activists from Japan and abroad gathered August 8 in Nagasaki for a special seminar on what citizens’ groups are doing to halt nuclear weapons production.
The meeting was part of the 11th annual conference of activists and others who are seeking to abolish atomic weapons. The conference began August 7 and finishes August 9, on the 52nd anniversary of the Aug. 9, 1945 atomic bombing of this city.
Representatives from groups opposed to nuclear weapons and U.S. military presence in Japan, as well as supporters of atomic bomb survivors attended the seminar. Much of the rhetoric was directed against the United States for conducting a subcritical nuclear test in Nevada last month and for expanding the role of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty.
Japanese activists said they were afraid the new guidelines to the treaty, due to be announced at the end of September, will bring Japan one step closer to nuclear weapons production. Many of the delegates waved flags and banners calling for an end to the treaty.
Yoshinori Ito, a representative of the Japan-Vietnam Society, said in his remarks that 80 percent of all Americans now oppose the development of nuclear weapons. Tracing the history of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, Ito said the purpose of the treaty was not to preserve peace in the region but, rather, to maintain the status quo. “The United States continues to try to dominate the region through the development of nuclear weapons,” Ito said.
Although many delegates expressed anger at the U.S. government, they noted that opposition to nuclear weapons by the American public, as well as other countries, continues to grow. Several said recent changes in the governments of France and Britain were for candidates and parties opposed to atomic arms.
While Japanese delegates had a lot to say about the evils of nuclear weapons production abroad and the production of plutonium for such arms, they were silent on Japan’s own plutonium production program, centered on the now-accident-halted Monju fast-breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, and the accident-halted nuclear waste reprocessing plant in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture. Antinuclear activists in Fukui and elsewhere did say they fear plutonium sent from Monju to a reprocessing plant in France may have ended up in the nuclear weapons that France detonated in the South Pacific.