Green Legacy Hiroshima and U.N. Ethics Summit proposed by two speakers respectively at the IPPNW World Congress

Following are the texts of two speeches presented at the plenary session of the IPPNW World Congress which was held in Hiroshima on August 24-26. One was done by Nassrine Azimi, co-founder/coordinator of Green Legacy Hiroshima and senior advisor of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). In her speech she focused on the lessons learned from the Hiroshima’s post-war experience and how the worldwide vast expenditures on arms have been affecting human health and education. The other was spoken by Mitsuhei Murata, former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland, who emphasized a total ban on the use of nuclear energy and proposed to hold a UN Ethics Summit.

World without Structural Violence

Investing in Peace or Investing in Violence?

by Nassrine Azimi
Senior Advisor, United Nations Institute for Training and Research

Thank you Mr. Chairman, for your kind introduction. As you mentioned I am born in Iran, a Swiss citizen, with family in the United States, and whose adopted city is Hiroshima. But that expanded identity also applies to my faith: I am born Muslim, educated at Christian and Jewish schools, at ease in Buddhist and Hindu cultures. I will simply say that I do not feel any discomfort, being imbued in all these different identities and cultures -- I assume them all. Our session today deals with structural violence -- and at a time when even children are being killed in Syria and in far too many other places around the world simply because of their color or race or religion -- I feel compelled to start by emphasizing how necessary it is to break free of rigid, insignificant barriers to our common humanity.

My talk today will have three main thrusts -- and I hope to fit it all in the short time available. Per force there will be shortcuts -- please bear with me. I want to start with where we are right now, with Hiroshima - highlight some of the practical decisions that had to be made, in the crucible of those disastrous early days after the atomic bomb to rebuild the city and the sacrifices but also the smart choices of its leaders. Then I want to say a few words about how rare such pragmatic virtues still seem to be around the world -- in the priorities governments establish and in particular in the huge amount of resources wasted on the arms industry. And finally I want to speak of our initiative-- Green Legacy Hiroshima -- which is one small example of how each of us may try and counter the sense of helplessness we sometimes feel in the face of violence in general and the nuclear threat in particular.

First, on being inspired by Hiroshima’s resurrection and reconstruction
The nuclear annihilation of this city on 6 August 1945 has been referred to in previous sessions. The number of victims was staggering more than 1/3 of the city of 400,000 perished by the end of 1945, one half of the staff of City and Prefectural offices, including the mayor, were killed. Schools, hospitals, stores, fire stations -- all vanished.

The bomb was unleashed at the very center of the city -- the heart of its downtown. It is no exaggeration to say that it destroyed forever Hiroshima as it had been. So horrific was the impact and the lingering effects of radiation that there were real doubts as to whether Hiroshima could ever be rebuilt again. Some suggested moving it to another site altogether, others that the new city be built around the disaster.

But the momentum to salvage what was left of Hiroshima was equally strong. Survivors felt they had a duty to return, if only to honor the memory of their ancestors. There was a strong sense, from the start, that they owed it to the victims, to try and rebuild their city again on the site it had always occupied.

But to reconstruct, Hiroshima needed money. Even more than the rest of Japan, the city was destitute bleeding, poor and cut off from the rest of the world (initially there was a press code about Hiroshima, imposed by the Occupation).

We often forget the power of visionary leaders, in making a difference. Hiroshima was fortunate to have, at the helm of the City Hall, Shinso Hamai -- surely one of the most able Japanese politicians of recent memory. At the time of the nuclear attack, he was a relatively young official, working as head of emergency ration at the municipality. He was a reluctant candidate for mayor, but once elected he proved to be the ideal figure to stir Hiroshima back from the brink.

Mayor Hamai was able to convince the Occupation to give Hiroshima special treatment (this was resisted strongly at first -- Occupation authorities refused to treat the two atomic bombed cities any differently from the 200 or so other cities destroyed by conventional American bombings). Ultimately, though, even General McArthur came to approve of the plan -- enticed by the idea of Hiroshima transforming itself from a military city to a city of peace - the ‘Geneva of Asia’. Mayor Hamai also managed to rally a number of artists, including the young and bold architect Kenzo Tange, around his vision of a ‘new’ Hiroshima. The Reconstruction Law of 1949 was a turning point: it allowed special funding for the reconstruction of the city, and for the takeover of land that had belonged to the Imperial Japanese Army. Thanks to this the greening of river banks and the construction of the Peace Memorial Park and Museum as well as the Peace Boulevard became possible.

Thus from almost disappearing, Hiroshima went on to become a green city dedicated to the cause of international peace. The foresight and resilience of the citizens and political leaders of Hiroshima, their visionary but also pragmatic approach, were essential in the city’s survival.

Second, on worldwide expenditures on arms, versus health and education
Now allow me to show some figures -- I think they speak for themselves. In the past decade military spending worldwide has risen by a staggering 50%. Most of the figures here are based on the 2012 yearbook published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute http://www.sipri.org/yearbook
. Maybe one can start with the simple observation that, notwithstanding the global financial crisis, in 2011 governments nevertheless managed to spend more than 1.7 trillion US$ on military expenditures worldwide (and these are only the official figures). To break that abstract number into something we can grasp, suffice to say this amounts to almost 250 US$ per every man, woman and child on the planet. Imagine simply all that could have been done with that money.

These next few tables further make the point, by comparing governments’ per capita military spending vs. spending on education or health. And here it is really heartbreaking. You can see countries that really cannot afford to -- Pakistan, Iran, India -- to name but a few, arming themselves to the teeth, even as they are unable to provide education or health services to their citizens.


And if we view the country spending on military in the global total -- we can see the United States has a whopping 41% share of the world’s total military spending, followed -- ironically and tragically - by all the other permanent members of the Security Council.

My point in this section is a rather general one: it seems to me that our problem is more that of values and priorities. How is it I ask, that we do not question this status quo more strongly? We throw petty criminals into jail, but are not shocked that major arms-dealers wine and dine with prime ministers and presidents. As Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon has often said, the world is simply overarmed. Staggeringly, unnecessarily so.

Third, on Green Legacy Hiroshima
The power of symbols has been an incalculable part of Hiroshima’s reconstruction. After the bombing it was believed that 'Nothing will grow in Hiroshima for at least 75 years'. So when people discovered the first green sprouts only a few months after the bomb, the impact, for a broken people, was powerful.

As of this writing, the youngest Hibakusha, A-bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagsaki, are already in their late 60’s and 70’s. Their sacrifices have been immense, yet their resolve, to continue talking about their experience of the bomb -- even when it would have been surely easier to just try and forget -- is testimony to the universal message they feel compelled to convey. It is thanks to the Hibakusha that Hiroshima’s three principles/philosophies remain alive: ‘To forgive but not to forget’; ‘Never again’; and ‘Hiroshima, transformed from military city to city of peace’.

It became clear to many in the years and decades after the atomic bombing that surviving buildings and trees, too, were imbued with Hiroshima’s message. In 1996, the iconic A-bomb Dome was put on the UNESCO World Heritage List - a historical decision for the nominating committee and a victory, for those arguing the universality of Hiroshima’s cautionary tale - that nuclear weapon and humankind simply cannot co-exist.

Over the years I learned more about Hiroshima’s survivor trees. And having always loved trees it was only natural that once I had more time, I would get engaged. In early 2011 and with a group of friends in Hiroshima and at UNITAR, we started working on a project to rally around a campaign of distributing seeds of Hiroshima’s survivor trees worldwide. We call our initiative ‘Green Legacy Hiroshima’.


There are more than 170 trees in Hiroshima declared officially by the city as A-bomb survivor trees (Hibaku Jumoku) -- trees originally within a 2-km radius of the epicenter. Their history is verified through city archives, photos, testimony or recollections. It was clear that the very survival of these trees, protected and cherished by citizens over more than six decades, was an on-going legacy of Hiroshima survivors.

Also, in the 50s and 60s, when Hiroshima was still struggling, it called for donations of seeds and saplings from all over Japan. These arrived not just from around Japan, but from all over the world. So Green Legacy Hiroshima -- which I often call a 1000-year project -- is in a way returning that favor, greening the planet and spreading the message of caution and hope that Hiroshima embodies.

In conclusion -- allow me to simply leave you with two small books. The first, by Stephane Hessel, a 94 year old former French resistance fighter -- is entitled ‘Indignez vous!’ (‘Time for Outrage’ in English title). It became the lightening rod for the Occupy Wall Street movement. It is a powerful reminder of the necessity of rejecting the status quo, of not giving up hope for a better world. The second, ‘Du bon usage des arbres’ (roughly translated as ‘Of the good usage of trees’), written by a botanist, is addressed as both reprimand and plea to policy-makers, to urge them to be more informed of and respectful towards the powers of Nature. I think the cautionary message and the aspirations of these two books, alongside the lessons of Hiroshima, would be precisely the right message to leave you with, as we contemplate the meaning of a non-violent society.

Thank you for your kind attention.

A plea for a total ban on the use of nuclear energy

The lessons of Fukushima

by Mitsuhei Murata
Former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland

The most crucial issue menacing human security is without doubt the real increasing threat emanating from the use of nuclear power, both civilian and military.

Albert Einstein wrote in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1946, “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe.”

In 1956, I wrote in a prized essay that the world was “on the verge of total destruction”. The nuclear war was then menacing mankind. Today, the consequences of Fukushima nuclear accident are likewise menacing the world with the possibility of bringing about the ultimate catastrophe, as is shown by the unit 4 of Fukushima Daiichi , containing 10 times more cesium 137 than Chernobyl.

The Japanese are being cruelly obliged to realize that nuclear energy generates calamities human society cannot accept. Japan, having experienced all atrocities of nuclear power, except the worst that could result from the collapse of the Unit 4, has the historic role of contributing to the realization of denuclearization, both civilian and military.

However, nuclear reactors continue to be promoted, at home and abroad, as if the Fukushima accident had not taken place. Abandoning Fukushima should never be allowed. From the standpoint of unfortunate victims, including more than one hundred and seventy thousand refugees who are unbearably suffering, I wish to make a plea for true denuclearization, unmasking the awesome risks of nuclear power.

The world has learned for good that any conduct permitting radioactive contamination creates incalculable and permanent harm to mankind and the earth.

1. After having experienced Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, it can now be asserted that nuclear accidents are no less dreadful than atomic bombs in the final end, capable of causing human and material damages beyond imagination. Nuclear reactors are potentially “super nuclear bombs”. Suffice it to say that no single atomic weapon can compete with the Unit 4.

2. The Fukushima accident has actually proven that, in the worst case, it could have developed into the ultimate catastrophe, not only for Japan but for the whole world. The crisis of the Unit 4 shows that this possibility cannot be excluded even today, for an earthquake of intensity 7 is certain to bring about the collapse of it. The awareness of this real danger should urgently be disseminated all over the world.

3. Sound judgment would not have allowed the construction of 54 nuclear reactors in Japan, menaced by so frequent earthquakes and tsunamis. What made it possible is the finally disclosed lack of ethics and responsibility. By dint of money, the seeds of catastrophe have been disseminated. It has been established that corruption is inherent to the management of nuclear power plants. This is not limited to Japan.

4. This lack of ethics and responsibility is symbolized by the treatment of radioactive nuclear waste that has found no solution. It infringes upon the human rights of future generations. In this connection, we must recall the declaration of UNESCO of 1997, stating that the present generation has the responsibility to leave behind us the beautiful planet. The “nuclear village” or “nuclear dictatorship” that persists in Japan envisages to export and restart nuclear reactors, proving that it is again on the offensive. This is extremely immoral. It reflects the lack of the sense of guilt as a country unable to stop damaging the world by radioactive contamination. It will last, alas, for unlimited length of time.

5. Japan should send out a warning that another accident will happen if the world does not start heading toward denuclearization, learning the lessons of Fukushima. Eight years ago, I issued a warning that the fate of Japan would be decided by electric companies. Two years ago in Basel, on the occasion of the World Congress of IPPNW, I said, after referring to Providence as philosophy,“ In this line of thinking, we cannot but be preoccupied by the eventuality of a nuclear calamity. Human wisdom must be mobilized to prevent such ultimate catastrophe from taking place”. I cannot regret too much that these warnings could not prevent what I had feared from taking place.

6. In view of the worldwide consequences of a nuclear accident, the countries not possessing nuclear reactors are recommended to send out messages asking for denuclearization. Such countries as Germany, Switzerland and Italy that have opted for it are also recommended to issue messages of persuasion in order to contribute to the realization of true denuclearization, both civilian and military.

7. Japan is originally a country of maternal culture whose characteristics are harmony and solidarity. After the Meiji Restoration, Japan introduced paternal culture ,whose characteristics are competition and confrontation,in the form of militarism. It is proven by history that paternal culture generates catastrophe in the final end. The Fukushima accident results from another form of paternal culture, namely, the supremacy of economy, introduced after the last war. Maternal culture is the only remedy. This is why it should be stressed that the lesson of Fukushima requires the shift from “priority to economy” to “priority to life”. This concretely means the transition from the present paternal civilization of power to a maternal civilization of harmony. The Fukushima accident has given rise to this paradigm shift.

8. It is now confirmed that a nuclear accident causing disasters with limitless consequences cannot be endured by human society. The Fukushima accident has reminded humanity of the forgotten great principle that the possibility of giving rise to such calamity should be made completely zero. Accordingly, we should not use any scientific technology susceptible of causing such disaster. It is this principle that requires “the world without nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors”. The above-mentioned transition to a maternal civilization is the prerequisite to achieving this vision.

9. The crisis mankind faces today is that of civilization. It is generally agreed that the true cause of it is the lack of ethics. It is against fundamental ethics to abuse and exhaust natural resources that belong to future generations and leave behind permanently poisonous waste and enormous financial debts. The establishment of global ethics is the prerequisite to the creation of a maternal civilization. It can be defined as a civilization based on ethics and solidarity, respecting the environment and the interests of future generations. It requires three transitions: from selfishness to solidarity, from greed to contentment and from materialism to spiritualism. There is no doubt that natural and renewable energies could amply satisfy the needs of energies for such a civilization, except for a transitional period to be supplemented by fossil fuel. We must be prepared to make the short term sacrifice in our lifestyles without nuclear energy for the long term safety of mankind and the earth.

10. This is why the proposal for holding a UN Ethics Summit is increasingly drawing attention on a global scale. The establishment of global ethics, the creation of a maternal civilization and true denuclearization constitutes the relationship of trinity. President Obama’s vision of the “World without Nuclear Weapons” needs to be heightened to the “World without Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Reactors”. The first concrete step toward this goal is the UN Ethics Summit. It is strongly hoped that President Obama, in response to the expectations of a concrete step toward his vision, takes the initiative to realize this Summit during the coming UN General Assembly to be held next September. Secretary –General Ban Ki-moon wrote me last January that he would gladly support it if member-states submit it to the General Assembly. Its aim is the creation of an International Day of Global Ethics that will make it possible to promote and foster awareness of the importance of global ethics every year. The controversy over the content is to be carefully avoided. Japan Society for Global System and Ethics of which I am Executive Director is proposing to choose March 11 as its date.


The critical situation at the Fukushima Daiichi requires the mobilization of human wisdom on the widest possible scale. The pressing need for setting up a neutral assessment team as well as an international technical cooperation team is evident. The fuel rods in the decaying cooling pool of the Unit 4 must be moved to another place as soon as possible. I t is a global security issue that requires the maximum efforts which regrettably are not being made.

The Fukushima accident is changing Japan and the world. Many Japanese citizens are now powerfully expressing their opposition by participating in demonstrations against restarting nuclear reactors without fully guaranteeing security. More and more Japanese people are being awakened to the real dangers of nuclear reactors. I am convinced that there will be no more restarting in Japan. The two Ohi reactors could sooner or later be obliged by the public opinion to cease their operations. Japan is thus steadily heading toward establishing the policy of no dependence on nuclear energy. A Legislative Council of Citizens is to be set up with the aim of establishing a new law of ceasing dependence on nuclear energy, abolishing the present basic nuclear law. I am among the board members of the Council.

“The will of heavens and the earth” is my translation for “Providence as philosophy” that protects mankind and the earth. It will help achieving true denuclearization, civil and military, in due course. The rage of those who lost everything by the accident will continue to enliven anti-nuclear movement in Japan and eventually abroard. Japan has now the duty to contribute to the realization of true denuclearization. If Japan accomplishes this duty, the victims of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima would not have suffered in vain.