An open letter to the people of Japan

In observance of the 74th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombings of Japan

We, the undersigned, representing a coalition of concerned peace organizations and citizens of the United States are advocating for abolition of nuclear weapons globally. We are gathering here, in front of the Consulate General of Japan in New York, with a bouquet of flowers to express our sincere regrets and apologies for our nation’s atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Although our government hasn’t apologized officially for this war crime and crime against humanity, the members of our coalition would like to extend our deepest condolences to the atomic bomb survivors (Hibakusha) who have endured great mental and physical hardships for over seven decades.

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A peaceful gathering in front of the Consulate General of Japan in New York to mark the anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Back in 1987, President Reagan and Secretary General Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which banned all land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. In February 2019, President Trump formally suspended the U.S. obligations for this treaty. Considering the fact that the U.S. and Russia hold more than 90% of nuclear warheads in the world, President Trump’s policy could insinuate unnecessary tension not only between these two countries, but also amongst the countries around the world.

After more than seven decades of nuclear deterrence policy, it has been an undeniable global consensus that the world became more dangerous under such policy. We promise to keep raising our voices to our government regarding the importance of keeping arms control treaties and signing and ratifying of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted by the United Nations in 2017 with overwhelming support from 122 member states.  We also hope that Japan will be the first country in the U.S. nuclear alliance to give up the U.S. nuclear umbrella by swiftly signing, ratifying and playing a leadership role in pro­moting the Treaty. Our coalition also calls on Japan to preserve its peace constitution and to support the peace process on the Korean Peninsula.

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The use of nuclear technology, whether it’s military or civilian, comes with enormous risks and incalculable consequences. Japan has been suffering from the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima, which was the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. The triple meltdown and the explosion at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant forced some 160,000 residents to evacuate. After eight years, more than 50,000 people still remain displaced. As the workers at Fukushima Daiichi are battling with decommissioning of the plant and the nuclear wastes, the amount of radioactive water stored at the site has now exceeded more than 1 million metric tons and counting. Thyroid cancer is one of the known adverse effects from radiation exposure, and the incident rate among children has been on the rise.

The reality of Fukushima is far from “under control” as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described in 2013. However, Mr. Abe’s false claim eventually resulted in a successful bid to host the 2020 summer Olympic games in Tokyo. The recent news confirms that the Olympic torch relay will start at the J-Village Sports Complex in Fukushima, which is just 10 miles from the crippled nuclear power plant. The torch relay events will take place in a total of 25 municipalities in Fukushima, and 9 of them are within 30 miles of the plant. We are also disturbed by the plans to host softball games and a baseball game in Fukushima city, which is more than 150 miles away from Tokyo, contradicting the name “Tokyo” Olympics. Moreover, the summer of 2020 coincides with the 75thanniversary of the atomic bombings in Japan. The closing ceremony of the Olympic games is scheduled on August 9, which was the date when the city of Nagasaki was destroyed by the horrific bombing in 1945.

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The Granny Peace Brigade, New York City.

Achieving global nuclear disarmament and abolishing nuclear technology is not a political chess game. It is our moral duty for our children and future generations who will be born on this planet. It is bigger than who we are, where we are from, or what we believe in. We must carry on a path toward a nuclear-free world that the Hibakusha and their supporters have hoped for since the end of World War II.

We would like to conclude by sharing what the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has said at the 2019 Doomsday Clock Announcement on January 24, 2019 regarding the current alarming trend where the global nuclear order is deteriorating and nuclear risks are increasing:

“The current situation—in which intersecting nuclear, climate, and information warfare threats all go insufficiently recognized and addressed, when they are not simply ignored or denied—is unsustainable. The longer world leaders and citizens carelessly inhabit this new and abnormal reality, the more likely the world is to experience catastrophe of historic proportions.”

NO MORE HIROSHIMA

NO MORE NAGASAKI

NO MORE FUKUSHIMA

NO MORE WAR

NO MORE HIBAKUSHA

NEVER AGAIN!

August 5, 2019

Click here to see who signed the letter.

Headline photo of the Hiroshima dome by Freedom II Andres/Creative Commons.

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