“That No One Suffer What We Endured”



Section nine of thirteen of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2018 peace proposal, “Toward an Era of Human Rights: Building a People’s Movement.”

Paper cranes made by school children in Hiroshima are placed outside Oslo’s Parliament building the day before the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, symbolizing the wish for a nuclear-weapons-free world [Photo © ICAN/Ari Beser]

In April–May this year, the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 NPT Review Conference will meet, and in May, the UN will host a High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament. These will be the first venues for debate and deliberation that will include both the nuclear-weapon and nuclear-dependent states to be organized since the adoption of the TPNW. I strongly urge all participants to engage in constructive debate toward the goal of a world free from nuclear weapons. I hope that world leaders will take the opportunity to commit to steps that their governments can take in the field of nuclear disarmament in advance of the NPT Review Conference. This would also be a prime opportunity to make public which among the seven acts prohibited by the TPNW they could consider committing to.

The prohibition on the transfer of nuclear weapons, for example, or against assisting other states in acquiring nuclear weapons are among those to which the nuclear-weapon states could agree within the context of the NPT. Likewise, for the nuclear-dependent states, it should certainly be possible to consider the prohibition on using or threating to use nuclear weapons and against assisting, encouraging or inducing such acts in light of their respective security policies.

The efficacy of international law is enhanced by the mutual complementarity of so-called “hard law” such as treaties and “soft law” in forms such as UN General Assembly resolutions and international declarations. In the field of disarmament, there is the example of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), in which states that have not yet ratified the Treaty enter into separate agreements to cooperate with the international monitoring system. In the case of the TPNW, in parallel with efforts to gain further signatories and ratifications, it would be useful to generate a body of voluntary commitments by nonparties to the Treaty to abide by specific prohibitions, setting these forth in declarations of national policy.

We must remember that the TPNW did not arise in isolation from the NPT. It was, after all, the 2010 NPT Review Conference that expressed—with the support of both the nuclear-weapon and nuclear-dependent states—a renewed awareness of the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons use, and it was this awareness that accelerated momentum for a prohibition treaty. The TPNW, for its part, gives concrete form to the nuclear disarmament obligations under Article VI of the NPT and promotes their good-faith fulfillment.

In November 2017, the Toda Peace Institute, which I founded in recognition of my mentor’s legacy, organized an international conference in London on the theme of cooperative security. The conference deliberated the challenges of advancing nuclear disarmament, which has long been stalled. It also considered ways in which the NPT and the TPNW can be complementary. A further conference to be held in Tokyo in February will bring together specialists from Japan, South Korea, the United States and China to explore ways of breaking the current impasse surrounding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and promoting peace and security in Northeast Asia.

Against the backdrop of a lack of progress in nuclear arms reduction, ongoing modernization of nuclear arsenals and critical proliferation challenges, now is the time to seek synergies between strengthening the foundations of the NPT and the prohibition norm clearly enunciated by the TPNW. Such synergies can create the path to a future in which the tragedy of nuclear weapons use will never be repeated.

In this regard, I earnestly hope that Japan, as the only country to have experienced the use of nuclear weapons in war, will take the lead in enhancing conditions for progress in nuclear disarmament toward the 2020 NPT Review Conference. Japan should use the opportunity of May’s High-Level Conference to stand at the forefront of nuclear-dependent states in declaring its readiness to consider becoming a party to the TPNW.

To paraphrase the words of Colin Powell: Is it Japan’s intention to become a country that countenances the possibility of nuclear weapons being used again, for the first time since August of 1945? Having experienced the full horror of nuclear weapons, Japan cannot turn away from its moral responsibility.

Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, speaks during the 2017 negotiations for a nuclear ban treaty [Photo © ICAN/Ralf Schlesener]

The TPNW is imbued with the heartfelt desire of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that no country be targeted for nuclear attack and that no country ever make the decision to launch a nuclear strike. Hibakusha Setsuko Thurlow described her feelings on the adoption of the Treaty as follows: “It has also convinced us that our continued discussion of our experiences, which are painful to remember, is the right thing to do and will never be in vain.”

Last year, at the first preparatory committee meeting for the 2020 NPT Review Conference, the representative of Japan stressed: “The recognition of the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons underpins all approaches towards a world free of nuclear weapons.” Japan’s stance on this issue must always be grounded in the spirit the hibakusha have embodied—that no one else ever experience the suffering they have endured.

Another proposal I would like to make in support of the universalization of the TPNW regards the mobilization of the growing solidarity of civil society.

The significance of the Treaty is found in its comprehensive outlawing of all aspects of nuclear weapons. But of equal or even greater note is the fact that it incorporates the role and participation of civil society as vital protagonists supporting its implementation, not limiting this to states and international organizations. The Treaty stipulates that, in addition to states that have yet to join, civil society will be invited to participate as observers in the biannual conference of the parties and the review conferences that are to be held every six years.

This is a recognition of the importance of the role played by the world’s hibakusha in particular and civil society as a whole in the adoption of the Treaty. At the same time, it is evidence that the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons is indeed a shared global undertaking that requires the participation of all countries, international organizations and civil society.

The Preamble of the Treaty stresses the importance of peace and disarmament education. This was a point that the SGI repeatedly stressed in civil society statements to the negotiating conference as well as in working papers submitted to the conference. We are convinced that peace and disarmament education can ensure the intergenerational heritage of knowledge of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons. Such knowledge and the education that promotes it build the foundation for the active implementation of the Treaty by all countries.

To support efforts to realize the early entry into force and universalization of the TPNW, the SGI will, this year, launch the second People’s Decade for Nuclear Abolition. This will build on the work of the first Decade, which I suggested in a proposal on reinvigorating the UN released in August 2006. The Decade began in September 2007, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda’s declaration calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

During this first Decade, in order to convey the horrors of nuclear weapons and war, the SGI, in collaboration with ICAN, produced a five-language DVD Testimonies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Women Speak Out for Peace. The “Everything You Treasure” exhibition has been held in eighty-one cities in nineteen countries. Also, following the gathering by the SGI of 2.27 million signatures calling for a nuclear weapons convention presented to the NPT Review Conference in 2010, we collaborated in gathering 5.12 million signatures in 2014 for the Nuclear Zero campaign.

The SGI also worked with a number of organizations in holding the International Youth Summit for Nuclear Abolition in Hiroshima in August 2015. We participated in the international conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons as well as various meetings and negotiating sessions held under UN auspices in order to ensure that the voices and concerns of civil society are represented.

Through such activities, the SGI has worked to ensure that the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons remains central to the disarmament discourse. We have called for negotiations on a legally binding treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons in all their phases and aspects, rooted in the desire of ordinary citizens for a world free from nuclear weapons.

related article Building Global Solidarity Toward Nuclear Abolition (September 8, 2009) by  Daisaku Ikeda, President, Soka Gakkai International In his Nuclear Abolition Proposal released on September 8, 2009, SGI President Ikeda suggests a five-part plan towards creating a foundation for a world without nuclear weapons. Where the first People’s Decade for Nuclear Abolition was focused on realizing a legally binding instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons, the second will feature an increased focus on peace and disarmament education in the effort to universalize the TPNW and effect real-world transformations based on it. This means channeling the voices of the world’s people in support of the Treaty and promoting the concrete processes that will advance the cause of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

Mayors for Peace now embraces more than 7,500 cities in 162 countries and territories, demonstrating the extent of voices calling for a world without nuclear weapons including, importantly, in the nuclear-weapon and nuclear-dependent states. Further, the ICAN coalition of civil society organizations now comprises 468 organizations worldwide.

In order to promote the universality of the TPNW, I think it is important, in addition to civil society efforts to encourage the participation of more states, that the global scale of support for the Treaty be made continuously visible. It could be effective, for example, to collaborate with ICAN, Mayors for Peace and others to create a world map in which the municipalities supporting the Treaty are displayed in blue, the color of the UN, and to widely publicize civil society voices in support of the Treaty and communicate these voices to the venues where UN or other disarmament conferences are being held.

Likewise, efforts should be made to build an ever-broader constituency in favor of the Treaty, with a focus on, among others scientific and faith communities, women and youth. Civil society should continue to urge states to participate in the Treaty and, following its entry into force, encourage states not yet parties to the Treaty to attend the meetings of the states parties and review conferences in an observer capacity.

Earlier, I referred to a simulated military exercise conducted in the midst of the Cold War in which a map of the world was turned an apocalyptic red. We, the world’s people, can no longer tolerate a state of affairs in which the horrors of a nuclear exchange remain a possibility. The weight of this global popular will needs to be demonstrated clearly in order to move the world as a whole in the direction of denuclearization.

In her acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, Setsuko Thurlow stated:

“When I was a 13-year-old girl, trapped in the smouldering rubble, I kept pushing. I kept moving toward the light. And I survived. Our light now is the ban treaty. . .

“No matter what obstacles we face, we will keep moving and keep pushing and keep sharing this light with others. This is our passion and commitment for our one precious world to survive.”

From the foundation of the global network that has been built by ICAN, Mayors for Peace and others, we need to make visible the global popular will for nuclear weapons abolition. The weight of this popular will can eventually bring about a change in policy by the nuclear-weapon and nuclear-dependent states and finally bring the era of nuclear weapons to an end. That is my belief and heartfelt conviction.

Previous    Next

─── other articles ───

our story

page top