Take a stand against nuclear weapons

Sixty-eight years have passed since atomic bombs were used against people for the first time — on Aug. 6, 1945, in Hiroshima and three days later in Nagasaki. Policymakers the world over should take concrete action toward the abolition of nuclear weapons by listening to what Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said in his 2013 Peace Declaration on Tuesday, the 68th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.

Mr. Matsui reminded us that nuclear weapons are “the ultimate inhumane weapon and an absolute evil” because of their nature: “Indiscriminately stealing the lives of innocent people, permanently altering the lives of survivors, and stalking their minds and bodies to the end of their days.”

His next statement expressed common sense thinking that leaders of nuclear weapons states should take to heart. “Policymakers of the world, how long will you remain imprisoned by distrust and animosity? Do you honestly believe you can continue to maintain national security by rattling your sabers?”

He continued: “Please come to Hiroshima. Encounter the spirit of the hibakusha (atomic bombing survivors). Look squarely at the future of the human family without being trapped in the past, and decide to shift to a system of security based on trust and dialogue.”

The current situation is far from the ideal as described by the Hiroshima mayor. There are some 17,000 nuclear weapons all over the world, including those to be scrapped. Despite U.S. President Barack Obama’s call for further mutual cuts in nuclear arsenals, Russia has not yet responded positively. In February, North Korea carried out its third nuclear explosion test. There is a report that Iran already possesses enough enriched uranium to make six or more nuclear bombs.

In Japan, the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant continues, threatening further contamination of the environment with radioactive materials. In addition, Japan has stockpiled some 44 tons of plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel. Such plutonium can be converted into the ingredients for a nuclear weapon.

As the first country to suffer the dread of exposure to radiation from a nuclear attack, Japan has a special responsibility to move forward with efforts to eliminate such weapons. Yet, on April 24 it refused to sign an important statement supported by 74 countries at the second session in Geneva of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The statement said in part, “It is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances.”

Japanese officials stress that because Japan is under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, it cannot sign such a statement. But even if the current security arrangement cannot be changed anytime soon, the Japanese government has a moral duty to draw up a long-term security plan that is not dependent on nuclear weapons. Japan, which knows firsthand the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons, must have the courage to declare that nuclear weapons are an absolute evil, and work strenuously toward their abolishment.

  • Nuclear fission wasn’t peaceful from the start. And over a few rocks a new cycle of conflict may be on the horizon if we don’t watch.

  • Guest

    Nuclear weapons are already here and they will be here forever. You can’t uninvent a thing, you can just wait until we invent even more powerful weapon.

    Also, nuclear weapons are not any worse or more inhuman than any other weapon. It doesn’t matter if you are killed by a bullet, a tank shell, an atom bomb or even if your head was smashed by a stick. Wars always were like that and nuclear weapons prevented many more wars than any other invention or any peace treaty.

    • Enteringsandman

      You can agree not to use it though, provided a small number of people aren`t bent on holding the rest of the world over a barrel. Instead of being fatalistic why not try and change things?

      If you have evidence that it prevented wars, please provide it, but really the use sent Russia desperately scrambling in fear to get their own, which is where the problem began. This led to proxy wars all over the world.

      Your appraisal of all weapons as morally equal is simplistic, and sounds like the childish NRA arguments for keeping assault weapons on the streets. Of course, a murder by nuke or bullet or spade is a equivalent, but killing 140000 people is an awful lot more difficult using a spade. Nukes are so powerful that they have to kill a huge number of civilians to be used effectively, as military formations are too sparse for them to be cost-effective. i.e. you have to use them on a production centre (read:city), which kills thousands of innocents.

  • StevenStreets

    68 years of peace as the only major industrialized economy to forswear war is a great historic victory for Japan.

    The Rising Sun of the Dawn of a New Age of mankind without war.

    Beware the debt industry nexus with military spending.

    Beware the motives of Fiat Specie (paper money) depreciation/inflation.

    The bloodshed of the 20th century is laid at that door.
    Keep the Peace Japan and Lead the World into it.

    (Who knows if we may need all those nukes if we ever meet some nasty space aliens)