Hidankyo submits 650,000 signatures calling for TPNW ratification to Japan’s national government

by Koji Higuchi, Staff Writer

On December 21, the Japan Confederation of A- and H-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo) submitted to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs 657,174 signatures urging Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (representing Hiroshima Prefecture’s District No. 1) to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which entered into force in January 2021. The confederation stressed the significance of Japan’s participation in the treaty as the only nation to have suffered an atomic bombing based on its philosophy that, “Now is the time for Japan to lead the world to move from prohibition to elimination of nuclear weapons.” The group also asked for Japan’s participation as an observer in the First Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW, scheduled to take place in March 2022.

Six members of the confederation, including Sueichi Kido, 81, the organization’s secretary-general, visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo, and handed a written request and signature books to Hidehiro Ikematsu, deputy director-general of the ministry’s Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Department. “We appreciate your efforts to realize a world without nuclear weapons,” responded Mr. Ikematsu, upon receiving the request.

In a closed-door meeting, Mr. Ikematsu was reported to have expressed reservations about joining the meeting of states parties to the treaty as an observer, reiterating the government’s previous concern that no nuclear nations have joined the TPNW.

Prompted by TPNW’s entry into force earlier this year, Hidankyo called for signatures through its local chapters across Japan and submitted to the government signatures collected in the initial stage. In a press conference held after the meeting, Hidankyo’s Mr. Kido said, “Frankly, 650,000 signatures is an enormous figure” and expressed his willingness to continue the signature-collection drive. Mr. Kido added, “To adequately convey to the world the A-bomb survivors’ hope of eliminating nuclear weapons, I want the government to participate in, and speak at, the meeting of states parties as an observer.”

(Originally published on December 22, 2021)