9.41 million signatures calling for nuclear weapons ban treaty to be submitted to the U.N.

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

On April 23, the Hibakusha Appeal network, which is pursuing a signature campaign to call on U.N. member states to conclude the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, announced that they have collected 9,415,025 signatures as of the end of March. Sueichi Kido, 79, the secretary general of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo), and Jiro Hamasumi, 73, the organization’s assistant secretary general, spoke at a news conference held in Tokyo and expressed their determination to appeal for the immediate abolition of nuclear arms. They plan to deliver the signatures to the United Nations headquarters in New York soon.

The signature campaign, proposed by Nihon Hidankyo, was launched in April 2016. About 1.11 million signatures were gathered over the last six months. Mr. Kido and Mr. Hamasumi plan to hand over the signatures to the chairperson of the third Preparatory Committee of the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which will be held at the U.N. headquarters.

Mr. Hamasumi lost his father in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and he himself was exposed to the bombing while in his mother’s womb. He will be the first prenatally-exposed survivor to testify at an official event organized by the Preparatory Committee. He said, “An atomic bomb destroys lives, bodies, everyday living, and the minds of human beings. Even unborn babies are exposed to the bomb’s radiation. I want to tell people how frightening nuclear weapons are.”

Prior to the news conference, they visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with members of the Japan NGO Network for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, which is comprised of antinuclear non-governmental organizations (NGOs). They asked why Japan has not joined the nuclear weapons ban treaty and called for a change in policy so that the nation will no longer rely on nuclear deterrence. Kiyoto Tsuji, the vice-minister for foreign affairs, met with them and responded by saying, “The Japanese government shares the same goal of a world without nuclear weapons, but is taking a different approach.”

Mr. Kido stressed, “I witnessed the horrific scenes wrought by the atomic bombing and I can’t understand the logic that nuclear weapons will ensure our safety. The abolition of these weapons is an urgent concern.”

(Originally published on April 24, 2019)