Declaration of the 2015 World Conference against Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs

Children holding peace messages gathered in Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on August 3 ahead of the annual memorial ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing. | Kyodo

The 2015 World Conference Against Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs concluded its work in Hiroshima on August 4.  It issued this declaration:

     It will soon be 70 years since atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States.  This year also marks the 70th year after the end of World War II.  We the delegates assembling in the International Meeting of the 2015 World Conference against A and H Bombs are determined to make this year a point of decisive turn to achieve a world without nuclear weapons. 

     The Charter of the United Nations pledged “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind”, and the first resolution of the U.N. General Assembly called for “the elimination from national arsenals of atomic weapons”.  This is exactly where post-WWII world politics began.  Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which provides for the renunciation of war and non-possession of war potentials, is rooted in both the deep reflection on Japan’s war of aggression and colonial rule and the cruel experience of the suffering from the A-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

     With the Hibakusha, we say, “No more wars!” and “No more Hiroshimas or Nagasakis!”

     There are still about 16,000 nuclear warheads in the world.  The use of one of them, even by accident, would cause “hell on earth”, a situation beyond description.  In Hiroshima and Nagasaki a total of 210,000 people died by the end of 1945, and those who survived in the moment were later afflicted both mentally and physically.  As the Hibakusha warn, the damage to Hiroshima and Nagasaki shows that nuclear weapons are the “weapons of devil”, with which humans cannot coexist.

     To root out this danger is an urgent task for world peace and the survival of the human race.  In international politics, too, discussions and understanding on the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are increasing, and the determination of not allowing nuclear weapons to be used ever again is gaining ground.  Now is the time for the peoples, governments and international organizations to come together to accomplish the prohibition and the elimination of nuclear weapons without delay.

     We regret that the 9th Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (April-May 2015) failed to agree on a final document due to opposition from the U.S., the U.K. and Canada to the proposed language on an international conference on a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. 

The conference, however, saw a number of important achievements reflecting public opinion and the movements: The voices calling for legally binding measures to achieve “a world without nuclear weapons”, including the start of negotiations on a treaty for the prohibition of nuclear weapons, represented the vast majority states, driving nuclear powers into a corner.  This was shown by the fact that at the drafting stage of the final document, the need for a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons was formulated for the first time.  The process to achieve it should start at the 70th Session of the U.N. General Assembly.  Further, as seen in the joint statement on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, joined by 159 states representing more than 80% of the parties to the NPT, the demand to prohibit nuclear weapons from the humanitarian viewpoint was so widespread that even nuclear powers had to express their “understanding”.

     It is more important than anything else to note that these developments have been supported by the movements and public opinion around the world.  In diplomatic negotiations on nuclear disarmament, the currents of democracy that bring together the voices of the majority is developing into a major force.  Promoting further this process both at the grassroots level and in international politics, surrounding the pro-nuclear forces and increasing pressure on them will make it possible to open a road to a world without nuclear weapons.

     The key to making further progress is to overcome the “nuclear deterrence” doctrine.  Though achieving “a world without nuclear weapons” was agreed by the 2010 NPT Review Conference, nuclear powers are refusing straightforward discussion of the abolition of nuclear weapons, relying on their so-called “step by step” approach.  This amounts to an attempt to maintain their own nuclear forces on the grounds of their “nuclear deterrence” doctrine, the assumption that their nuclear arsenal is needed for their own security. 

With the heightening regional tensions involving nuclear powers, there are concerns over the danger of the use of nuclear weapons.  The modernization of nuclear weapons, their build-up and training exercises, which squander a vast amount of resources, not only violate the NPT and other international agreements and their spirit, but also increase the danger of actual use of nuclear weapons.  We categorically oppose them.  The Marshall Islands’ case filed before the International Court of Justice against nuclear-armed states for their failure to observe their nuclear disarmament obligations commands broad support around the world.

     The tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki shows that the doctrine of “nuclear deterrence” cannot be justified for any reason whatsoever.  It is important to press for the start of negotiations on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, revealing the catastrophic consequences the use of nuclear weapons could cause.  We note, in this regard, the fact that the “Humanitarian Pledge” which seeks “legal measures” for the elimination of nuclear weapons from the viewpoint of their inhuman nature draws support from 113 states.

     To achieve regional peace and security on the basis of the peace principles of the U.N. Charter and by non-military means represents the major current of world opinion.  To resort to deterrence simply generates a vicious circle of tension and arms build-up.  We call for peaceful settlement of all international conflicts in compliance with international law.

     We warmly welcome the final agreement on Iran’s nuclear program reached through the effort for peaceful solution. We call for a diplomatic solution of North Korea’s nuclear issue.  We support the creation and expansion of nuclear weapon-free zones.  We demand an international conference for a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction be promptly convened as agreed upon by the past NPT review conferences.

     The Japanese people’s movement against war bills, supported by public opinion, is making unprecedented progress.  The planned war legislation is intended to enable Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense and the Self-Defense Forces to use force abroad in violation of the Japanese Constitution.  This reckless, anti-democratic action by those in power, who do not admit even the error of the past war of aggression, is eliciting protests from a broad range of people.  Criticism against the Japanese government is also developing internationally as well as at home for its objection to the negotiations for a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, and for its stance that runs counter to the major world development. Underlying it is a policy to rely on the “nuclear umbrella” provided by the US and even to condone the use of nuclear weapons, the attitude that is utterly incompatible with its position as the only A-bombed country.  Incorporated as it is in the U.S. nuclear strategy under the Japan-U.S. military alliance, the Japanese government now aims to railroad the war legislation through the Diet.  This is a truly serious danger.

     We express our solidarity with the movement of Japan to scrap the war bills in defense and advocacy of Japan’s Constitution, the struggle of Okinawa against the construction of a new U.S. base and to the movement to achieve a nuclear-free and peaceful Japan.

     The essential factor that promotes and maintains the global progress toward achieving the elimination of nuclear weapons is the movement of the peoples around the world and the support of public opinion.

     — Let us increase our efforts to make known the damage by the A-bombings and build momentum demanding the start of negotiations for a treaty for the prohibition of nuclear weapons.  Exhibitions on the A-bomb damage everywhere in the world and signature campaigns that connect each individual citizen to the worldwide movement will serve as its mainstays.  The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, Disarmament Weeks and other U.N.-related occasions should be made good opportunities to develop joint actions.

    — Let us continue to extend our support and solidarity with the Hibakusha, whose average age has now reached 80, and help them to win their demand for State compensation. We must inherit from the Hibakusha their memories of experiences and struggles.  Let us strengthen our relief and solidarity with the nuclear victims, including those of nuclear tests and nuclear power plant accidents.  Let us strengthen our support to the victims of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident and develop solidarity with the movements for ZERO nuclear power plants.  Let us support the victims of Agent Orange, depleted uranium and other war atrocities. 

We will work in solidarity with the people who stand up against war, for peace, for the solution of poverty and social inequality, for the reduction of military expenditures, for people’s livelihood, jobs and social welfare, for freedom and democracy, for climate change prevention and protection of global environment, for overcoming sexual and all other types of discrimination, and against social injustice.  Together, let us move forward to achieve a “nuclear weapon-free, peaceful and just world”.

                                    August 4, 2015

                                    International Meeting, 2015 World Conference against A and H Bombs