Japan Must Oppose Nuclear Weapons — Why Do We Even Have to Ask?

By Joseph Essertier, Japan for a World BEYOND War, May 5, 2023

Secretariat for the G7 Hiroshima Summit
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan
2-2-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100-8919

Dear Members of the Secretariat:

Ever since the summer of 1955, the Japan Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo) has actively campaigned to prevent nuclear war and abolish nuclear weapons. All of humanity is indebted to them for making significant contributions to world peace, such as when they organized the largest anti-nuclear protest ever, i.e., the antinuclear petition initiated by women and eventually signed by 32 million people, that came in the aftermath of March 1954 when U.S. nuclear testing irradiated people of the Bikini Atoll and the crew of a Japanese fishing boat called the “Lucky Dragon.” That international nuclear crime was only one in a long list of such crimes that began with President Harry Truman’s decision to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, ultimately killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese as well as tens of thousands of Koreans, not to mention the people of other countries or the U.S. who were in those cities at the time.

Sadly, despite Gensuikyo’s foresight and decades-long, diligent efforts, we, all the members of our species, have been living under the threat of nuclear war for three quarters of a century. And during the last year that threat has been greatly elevated by the war in Ukraine, a war in which two nuclear powers, Russia and NATO, could possibly come into direct conflict in the near future.

Daniel Ellsberg, the famous whistleblower who sadly will not be with us much longer due to terminal cancer, paraphrased on the first of May the words of Greta Thunberg: “The adults are not taking care of this, and our future absolutely depends on this changing somehow fast, now.” Thunberg spoke of global warming while Ellsberg was warning about the threat of nuclear war.

With the high stakes of the war in Ukraine in mind, we must now, for the sake of young people, be “the adults in the room” during the G7 Summit in Hiroshima (19-21 May 2023). And we must voice our demands to the elected leaders of the G7 countries (essentially, the NATO side of the conflict). World BEYOND War agrees with Gensuikyo that one “cannot build peace through nuclear weapons”. And we do endorse Gensuikyo’s main demands, which we understand as the following:

  1. Japan must pressure the other G7 nations to abolish nuclear weapons once and for all.
  2. Japan and the other G7 countries must sign and ratify the TPNW (Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons).
  3. In order to do so, the Japanese government must take the lead and promote the TPNW.
  4. Japan must not engage in military buildup under pressure from the United States.

In general, violence is a tool of the powerful. This is why, when states begin to commit the crime of war (i.e., mass murder), the actions and motives of the powerful must be investigated, questioned, and challenged above all. Based upon the actions of powerful government officials of the rich and powerful G7 states, including Japan, there is little evidence among them of sincere efforts to build peace.

All the G7 states, composed mostly of NATO states, have been complicit on some level with supporting the violence of the government of Ukraine under the auspices of NATO. Most of the G7 states were originally positioned such that they could have helped implement the Minsk Protocol and Minsk II. Considering how rich and powerful the governments of those countries are, their efforts toward such implementation was minimal and clearly insufficient. They failed to stop the bloodshed of the Donbas War between 2014 and 2022, and their actions over many years, including allowing or advancing the expansion of NATO close to and up to Russia’s borders and the installation of nuclear weapons within the territories of NATO states contributed, any serious observer would admit, to the violent reaction of Russia. This can be recognized even by those who believe that Russia’s invasion was illegal.

Since violence is a tool of the powerful and not the weak, it is not surprising that it is mostly poor and militarily weaker nations, mostly in the Global South, who have signed and ratified the TPNW. Our governments, i.e., the rich and powerful governments of the G7, must now follow in their footsteps.

Thanks to Japan’s Peace Constitution, the people of Japan have enjoyed peace for the last three quarters of a century, but Japan, too, was once an empire (i.e., the Empire of Japan, 1868–1947) and has a dark and bloody history. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has ruled most of the archipelago of Japan (except the Ryukyu archipelago when it was directly under U.S. rule) has backed up and encouraged the violence of the U.S. through the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty (“Ampo”) for three quarters of a century. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, a leading member of the LDP, must now break with the pattern of the LDP’s long and bloody partnership with the U.S.

Otherwise, nobody will listen when the government of Japan attempts to “communicate the charms of Japanese culture,” which one of their stated aims for the Summit. In addition to various cultural contributions to human society such as sushi, manga, anime, and the beauty of Kyoto, one of the charms of the Japanese people in the postwar period has been their embrace of Article 9 of their constitution (affectionately called the “Peace Constitution”). Many people who are ruled by the government in Tokyo, especially the people(s) of the Ryukyu archipelago, have diligently protected and brought to life the ideal of peace expressed in Article 9, that begins with the epoch-making words, “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation…” And as a consequence of that embrace of those ideas, almost all the people (excluding, of course, those who live near U.S. military bases) have enjoyed the blessings of peace for decades, including for example, being able to live without the constant fear of terrorist attacks that some of the people of the other G7 countries have faced.

Unfortunately, precious few of the world’s people are blessed with knowledge of foreign affairs, and so most people of the world are unaware that we, Homo sapiens, now stand at the precipice of a third world war. Most of the members of our species spend almost all their time engaged in the struggle for survival. They do not have time to learn about international affairs or the aftermath of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Moreover, unlike many well-informed Japanese, few people outside Japan have concrete knowledge of the horror of nuclear weapons.

Thus now, the few surviving hibakusha in Japan (and Korea), members of the family and friends of hibakusha both living and deceased, the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, etc., must tell what they know, and officials of the Japanese government and other G7 countries in Hiroshima must truly listen. This is a time in human history when we must pull together and cooperate as one species like never before, and it is widely recognized that Prime Minister Kishida, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and even the citizens of Japan as a whole, have a special role to play as builders of world peace as they host the G7 Summit.

Perhaps Daniel Ellsberg was referring to the following famous words of Greta Thunberg:  “We children are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis. We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back.”

Indeed, Ellsberg’s application of Thunberg’s words to the nuclear crisis today is appropriate. What the people of the world are demanding is action and progress toward a new path of peace, a new path in which we put aside our differences (even the gap in consciousness between rich imperialist states and BRICS countries), give hope to the people of the world, and brighten the future of the world’s children.

It is not helpful when liberal imperialists one-sidedly demonize Russians, putting 100% of the blame at their feet. We at World BEYOND War believe that war is always an unhealthy and stupid thing to do in this day when terrifying high-tech weapons are made possible through the technologies of AI, nanotechnology, robotics, and WMD, but nuclear war would be the ultimate madness. It could cause a “nuclear winter” that would make a decent life impossible for the vast majority of humanity, if not all of us, for a decade or more. These are some of the reasons why we endorse Gensuikyo’s demands above.

3 Responses

  1. Please post the translations of other languages, at least of the G7, esp. Japanese, whose P.M. is the addressee, as the writer knows Japanese. Then, we can share this message through SNS, etc.

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