Editorial: The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Declaration as inspiration for the elimination of nuclear weapons

The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Declaration of Nobel Peace Laureates was released on May 18. This statement, signed by 17 peace laureates, calls on political leaders and citizens to take action in order to realize a world free of nuclear weapons.

The declaration states that “nuclear weapons are a humanitarian disaster of monstrous proportion” and their elimination is “a fundamental necessity in forging a more secure planet for us all.”

In the first ten days since its release, media coverage of the declaration included more than 40 newspapers in Japan. Some referred to it in editorials or columns. Part of the declaration was read aloud in Diet deliberations. Citizens, as well, were impressed by the statement and shared it in blogs. Internationally, the declaration was reported on by U.S. news agencies and major websites. We feel confident that the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Declaration of Nobel Peace Laureates has been well-received both at home and abroad.

The anti-nuclear movement is gaining momentum. Most symbolic of this development is U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech made in the Czech capital of Prague. In this speech he clearly vowed to take concrete action toward a world without nuclear weapons.

“As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act,” President Obama pronounced. Even a short time ago, who could have imagined that the leader of this nuclear superpower would make such a statement? We must take advantage of this historical opportunity.

Not every Nobel Peace Prize laureate joined in the declaration. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, among others, did not take part and yet this does not necessarily imply a conflicting point of view.

Mr. Kissinger, for one, has strongly argued for the elimination of nuclear arms. He believes that, if the current trend toward nuclear proliferation is not stopped, the possibility exists that even terrorists will obtain nuclear weapons. It is thus safer to rid of the world of nuclear arms than hold on to them. In this, he shares the same ideas as articulated in the declaration. Mr. Kissinger’s stance is a sign that public opinion in the U.S. is undergoing a change.

This change is being demonstrated in a tangible way through the start of nuclear disarmament negotiations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the two nations which possess more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. If the two nuclear superpowers can reduce their nuclear weapons substantially, it should be possible to persuade other nuclear powers to follow suit. This would give fresh impetus to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, scheduled for May 2010.

North Korea, though, which has conducted its second nuclear test, is a source of concern. With nuclear weapons, the country will threaten the peace and stability of not only its region but of the whole world. The global community must stand united and firm against the possession of nuclear weapons by North Korea.

As stated in the declaration, treaties banning landmines and cluster bombs have been realized as a result of the strong will to abolish these arms. Why not, then, nuclear weapons? May the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Declaration of Nobel Peace Laureates serve as an inspiration for rousing within us the determination to eliminate nuclear weapons, too.

(Originally published on May 31, 2009)

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