Alternate declaration

Among the many Aug. 6 events in Hiroshima was a citizens gathering representing activists. I didn’t get a chance to post it before heading down to Nagasaki today, but here’s their peace declaration.

It’s written by Yuki Tanaka, who is a research professor at Hiroshima Peace Institute, a chronicler of World War II crimes by Japanese troops and a leader in demanding that the United States admit the criminal nature of the mass killing of civilians in the atomic bombings. (He’s also a co-editor of an impressive new book, “Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-Century History,” which traces how major military powers went from understanding the ethical problems with mass air attacks to merciless use of the tactic.)

Since the activist view doesn’t get the coverage of the politicians (and particularly since many Americans are, as a recent poll showed, still resolute in clinging to the official version of the end of World War II) here’s the whole text:

The 2009 Citizens’ Peace Declaration
August 6, 2009

Early this year, when President Barack Obama was inaugurated into White
House, there was great anticipation among the American people that positive
change may finally be possible. On April 5, in his speech in Prague, Obama
said: ‘As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United
States has a moral responsibility to act.’ Many people in the world, in
particular here in Hiroshima, felt these words gave reason to hope for the
abolition of nuclear weapons. We must remember however, that in the same
speech Obama also said, “As long as these weapons exist, the United States
will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary.”
In other words, he intends to reduce the number of nuclear weapons worldwide
in order to prevent terrorists from obtaining them, but also wishes to
maintain the U.S.’s nuclear deterrent against Russia and China.

Considering this situation, we need to emphasize the fact that the U.S.
clearly bears legal responsibility for the indiscriminate and mass killing
of Japanese citizens through the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
and that there is no such thing as “a safe, secure and effective arsenal” in
this world. We need to carefully monitor whether or not Obama keeps his word
to carry out the meaningful reduction of strategic nuclear weapons, ratify
the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty and to conclude the Fissile
Material Cut-off Treaty. At the same time we should fully utilize the
current growing worldwide trend for nuclear reduction in order to achieve
the best results at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference
in New York next year. Meanwhile, we strongly protest against the U.S.
government for carrying out the indiscriminate bombing of many civilians in
Afghanistan and Pakistan as the result of its expanded “anti-terrorist
operations” in these nations.

Regrettably, the Japanese government clearly exposes its self-contradiction
on nuclear issues. While it claims that as the only nation that has
experienced nuclear attacks, it supports the idea of the “ultimate abolition
of nuclear weapons,” it contradictorily justifies and supports the U.S.’s
“expanded deterrence,” but strongly condemns China’s nuclear policy at the
same time. Recently, it was revealed that the Japanese government violated
its own Three Non-nuclear Principles by secretly agreeing to allow the U.S.
government to bring nuclear weapons into Japanese territory. Yet
unashamedly, the Japanese cabinet members as well as high-officials are
still denying the existence of such an agreement, despite ample evidence to
the contrary.

Moreover, the Japanese government is promoting policies which rely more and
more upon military power. These include the expansion of the U.S. military
bases in Japan, violating the Constitution by sending Self-Defense Forces
overseas (to supply oil to U.S. navy ships in the Indian Ocean and for
operations against Somali piracy), and justifying its missile defense policy
on the pretext of protecting Japan against possible North Korean missile
attacks. In order to bring the peace to this part of the world, we need to
establish the Nuclear Free Zone of North East Asia rather than employing
missile defense or nuclear deterrence. Every year Japan allocates a large
sum of taxpayers’ money for its military operations as well as to maintain
U.S. Forces on Japanese soil, while reducing the budget for real social
welfare necessities such as medical care and unemployment benefits. As a
result, the weakest members of the nation – pensioners, single mothers,
casual workers and the disabled – are suffering more and more from poverty.
We demand that our politicians and bureaucrats respect the Constitution, in
particular Article 9, the renunciation of war, and Article 25, the peoples’
right to maintain wholesome and cultured living.

We also demand that the Japanese government to immediately stop the use of
nuclear energy, which is directly linked to the possibility of producing
nuclear weapons. In particular, the nuclear recycling plant at Rokkasho in
Aomori, Monju Fast Breeder Reactor in Fukui, and the plutonium thermal use
planned at several nuclear power stations should be abandoned. Let us work
together to stop the Chugoku Electric Power Company’s plan to build a
nuclear power station at Kaminoseki on coast of the beautiful Inland Sea and
to promote instead the wise use of natural energy such as solar and wind
power.

As the number of A-bomb survivors rapidly diminishes, we need to keep alive
memory of the survivors, who have long endured much physical and
psychological pain. We support their demand for the expansion of the
official definition of A-bomb victims. In particular, we support the demands
of survivors who reside in overseas countries such as Korea and thus have
been neglected over many years.

In order to abolish all nuclear weapons on Earth, we must all accept the
basic principle that no one has right to kill or injure anyone at any time.
This philosophy is well expressed in the Preface of Japan’s Constitution:
“the Japanese people desire peace for all time and are deeply conscious of
the high ideals controlling human relationships.” It is this spirit of peace
which is the driving force that can bring real “change” to the world.

Joe Copeland is a visiting researcher at the Hiroshima Peace Institute on a Fulbright program for journalists. The views are his own.

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