Hiroshima Voices: “No Nukes, No War” Akira Kawasaki, 54, co-chair of Peace Boat organization, Kawasaki City

Prepare for peace, not war

by Fumiyasu Miyano, Senior Staff Writer

As co-chair of Peace Boat, a non-governmental organization (NGO) engaged in peace activities, Mr. Kawasaki has sailed around the world together with A-bomb survivors since 2008 to communicate the tragic consequences of the atomic bombings. He also serves as a member of the international steering committee of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and contributed to establishment of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017.

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In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, preparations for armed conflict are proceeding at an accelerated pace in countries around the world. Russia’s invasion is a violation of the United Nations Charter as well as international law. That act must be condemned. However, in response to the brutality committed by Russia, Western industrialized nations, including Japan, are moving to build up their military arsenals to counter and even exceed such military might. The current situation is fraught with danger.

Some argue that military buildup will lead to peace. In reality, however, that trend will only increase the risk of war. As each country beefs up its own security with brute military force, the inevitable result will be the repetition of endless armed conflict. What instead needs to happen is the strengthening of world order based on international law. The United Nations, formed after World War II, stipulates that international disputes shall be settled by peaceful means. The basic principle held by the United Nations in this regard is that war should not be the means by which disputes among nations are settled.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is a representative example of a UN-centered security mechanism based on international law. With the TPNW, it can now be said that Russia’s blatant threats to use nuclear weapons are not permissible by law. International rules and laws adhered to by many nations are crucially important. Strengthening such rules and laws is necessary to prevent any escalation of war.

The TPNW is made up of a majority of countries worldwide. Traveling around the world like I have makes one realize that members of the group of Western industrialized nations constitute a minority. Only nine countries possess nuclear weapons, and about 30 countries fall under the so-called “nuclear umbrella.” The remaining 150-plus nations are not reliant on nuclear weapons. Those countries represent an overwhelming majority emphasizing UN-centered multilateral diplomacy based on international law rather than a balance of power of military alliances.

Our senses have been numbed by the propaganda put out by Western industrialized nations in the aftermath of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine that “military buildup is necessary.” It is necessary to remain calm and communicate to the world a message from Hiroshima that our driving principle is peaceful conflict resolution. Prepare for peace not war. Now is the time for us to raise our collective voice. If we fail to do so, the inevitable outcome will be a future of tragic consequences.