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Tokyo, Japan: Senior Norwegian politicians issued a strong call for the abolition of nuclear weapons at the opening of an exhibition linking nuclear abolition and human security attended by around 120 diplomats, scholars and activists at the Oslo City Hall Gallery on April 15.
Former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik and current Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store who chaired the 2007 Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions, spoke at the launch of "From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit," together with Norwegian United Nations Association President Helga Hjetland.
Mr. Bondevik stressed the timeliness of this showing, and the moral authority of an exhibition from Japan, the only country to have experienced nuclear bombing, stating:"Non-proliferation and disarmament must only be steps towards the only meaningful goal: A world free of nuclear weapons--an ambition I fully support. Visitors to this exhibition have been reminded of perhaps the most important question of our time. It's about the physical and spiritual survival of humanity."
Mr. Store also emphasized the importance of working for the very ambitious goal of nuclear abolition, commenting that as human beings, we can act for good or evil, and choose between a culture of violence and a culture of peace.
In a message for the opening, Soka Gakkai International President Daisaku Ikeda urged: "We must remind people that these weapons--which instantly rob vast numbers of people of life and inscribe a multigenerational legacy of suffering--are fundamentally incompatible with the conscience of humankind."
Later the same day, a seminar entitled "Nordic Initiatives for Nuclear Abolition" was held at the Nobel Institute, moderated by Stein Tonnesson, director of the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO). Speakers were Steffen Kongstad, director general of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Sverre Lodgaard, senior research fellow of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI). Featuring expert perspectives from both panelists and audience members, the seminar explored paths toward a nuclear weapon-free world.
The seminar and the exhibition, which runs until April 22, were organized by the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) Buddhist association, PRIO and NUPI. "Testimonies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Women Speak Out for Peace," a DVD created by the Soka Gakkai Women's Peace Committee which features the firsthand accounts of survivors of the atomic bombings, is continuously showing alongside the exhibition.
The 36 panels highlight the realities of nuclear weapons, the pitfalls of a militarized way of thinking and the human needs that could be met by cutting spending on weapons. The exhibition has been shown in 50 cities in 12 countries, including the U.S.A., Malaysia, Canada, Serbia and New Zealand and is available in English, Spanish and Chinese. In April 2008, it was displayed at the UN Office at Geneva during the second session of the Preparatory Committee of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Other groups supporting the exhibition and seminar in Norway are: No to Nuclear Weapons (NTA), Norwegian Physicians Against Nuclear Weapons (NLA), affiliated with International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the Norwegian Pugwash Committee, the Norwegian Atlantic Committee (NAC) and the Norwegian United Nations Association.
SGI is an international Buddhist association with 12 million members which promotes peace, culture and education. SGI has a 50-year track record of efforts for nuclear abolition and recently launched the People's Decade for Nuclear Abolition (http://www.peoplesdecade.org).
Source: Soka Gakkai International
Contact: Joan Anderson
Office of Public Information
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