Gensuikyo initiates signature drive calling for Japan’s ratification of nuclear ban treaty

by Yo Kono, Staff Writer

On October 29, the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo) began a signature drive to urge the Japanese government to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which will enter into force on January 22, 2021. Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bomb survivors participated in a kickoff gathering held in Tokyo on the same day, arguing that the signature campaign would change Japan’s policy on nuclear weapons.

The signature drive emphasizes that the government of Japan, the only country in the world to have experienced an atomic bombing in war time, must take the lead in the effort to abolish nuclear weapons. The drive urges the government to join the treaty as a sincere response to the voices of A-bomb survivors and the general public.

Included in the call for the government to ratify the treaty were the signatures of 126 people, including all board members of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo); Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima A-bomb survivor who lives in Canada; author Jakucho Setouchi; film director Yoji Yamada; and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto.

At the gathering marking the start of the signature drive, Terumi Tanaka, 88, co-chair of Nihon Hidankyo who experienced the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, said, “I am very grateful that the nuclear ban treaty will come into force, but at the same time, I am deeply resentful that the Japanese government has not signed or ratified the treaty.”

Masashi Ieshima, 78, representative director of the Tokyo Federation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations, or Toyukai, who experienced the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, said firmly, “Let’s move the government to ensure that at least one or two steps will be taken toward the abolition of nuclear weapons while we’re still alive.” At the conclusion of the gathering, a statement was adopted cautioning that nuclear weapons bring neither security nor deterrence, but instead will lead to the annihilation of human beings.

The TPNW, which comprehensively bans nuclear weapons, from their development to use, was adopted at the United Nations in July 2017. On October 24, the number of countries and regions ratifying the treaty reached 50, the number necessary for the treaty to enter into force. Japan, however, has neither signed nor ratified the treaty, citing as a reason the country’s stance of reliance on the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

(Originally published on October 30, 2020)