Presentation in New York: Mayors for Peace and us

by Honoka Imai and Kazuho Kubota

Hello, everyone. Our names are Honoka Imai and Kazuho Kubota from Hiroshima Jogakuin High School. We really appreciate your allowing us make a speech here. We will explain the occasion surrounding nuclear weapons and the relationship between Mayors for Peace and our activities.

Recently, Japan seems to be leaning to the right. The numbers of people being overconfident about Japan is increasing especially among the young Japanese. It isn’t leading to becoming right-wing directly, but it would possibly lead to having antiforeign sentiment. In the book, "A country left to die for young people,” the author said that he wanted to change society with severe economic disparity by using war as a tool and his opinion caused a sensation in Japan. The problems of comfort women and the territorial issue can’t be solved so it is difficult for Japan to improve the relations between Japan and China or Japan and Korea. Besides, Anti-Korean issue and hate speech are becoming serious issues.

Some people claim Japan should arm itself with nuclear weapons in such a society. They suspect the reliability of the nuclear umbrella of the USA. I think this opinion comes from the distrusts of China, North and South Korea.

On the other hand, we, the citizens, want to appeal for the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and to abolish them. Now the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons is advanced. This idea is supported by the Red Cross, NGOs and the countries that do not rely upon a nuclear umbrella. In the international conference in Mexico on February, 146 countries gathered there. The number of participating countries has been increasing. It shows more and more countries are becoming to support an inhumanity approach. Besides, representatives of civil society joined the conference too. In Japan, along with many countries in the world , NGOs are making efforts to make the treaty to ban nuclear weapons. We, high school students in Hiroshima, cooperate with the “2020 vision campaign” and have collected signatures to call for starting the negotiation to make the treaty. We desire not to arm with nuclear weapons but to make a peaceful society. Next, we will see the situation surrounding us in detail.

NPT was started in order to limit having nuclear weapons to 5 countries and for them to reduce the number of their nuclear weapons. However , in fact, India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons , Iran is developing them, Israel conceals having them, North Korea is developing them , these matters show NPT no longer works well. Some people worry about the destruction of NPT even.

Next, we will explain the countries surrounding Japan.

North Korea has developed nuclear weapons and can possibly drop them on Japan.

In China, war expenditures are on the increase. Mao Zedong said “We are ready to use nuclear weapons, ” it means China will become a conqueror of the world because China has a large population. If this stance is still maintained, nuclear deterrence won’t work for China.

According to the poll in South Korea, 51 percent of people there agreed to have nuclear weapons. After a nuclear test by North Korea, it increased from 51 percent to 61 percent. South Korea has the possibility to become a nuclear power.

Next, we have to do 2 things in this occasion. One is acting for peace including the abolishment of nuclear weapons , and another is to communicate with people of neighboring countries and promote mutual understanding.

Mayors for Peace and us

(1) About Mayors for peace as an NGO

In the Second United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues in 1982, Takeshi ARAKI former mayor of Hiroshima appealed to every country to cooperate with everyone beyond borders. He also announced 'the Program to Promote the Solidarity of Cities toward the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons' After that, the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki appealed to every nation to approve this plan, and they started Mayors for Peace.

It's now April 2014, there are 6,000 member cities and 158 countries & regions which take part in this organization.

The 8th General Conference of Mayors for Peace was held last year and the Hiroshima appeal was 'It would be difficult and take a long time to realize a world without nuclear weapons, but it is certainly achievable, and we must proceed with determination.

Like this spirit, our group has conducted several activities for realizing a world without nuclear weapons. Let me introduce them.

(2) About Hiroshima Jogakuin's activities

First, let me introduce about 'Peace Park tours.' We guide teachers and students who come from outside Hiroshima prefecture around the monuments in the Peace Park in Hiroshima. Growing up in Hiroshima since our childhood, we have heard the A-bomb survivors' experiences, and visited Hiroshima Peace Park many times. That is why we think that to tell our experiences to the same generation is our task. We also think that August 6th and 9th mustn't be regarded just as the past or history we learn in textbooks.

Next let me introduce about 'Hiroshima Archive'. It is the record of A-bomb survivors' and various data about the a-bomb using Google Earth. This project was started by Hidenori Watanabe an associate professor of Tokyo Metropolitan University. He started it to hand down this information to future generations. We are helping with the project. It has been 69 years since the A-bomb was dropped. The number of a A-bomb victims in the world is getting smaller and smaller. We'd like to keep on with this project in order not to lose the most important information which all mankind should share.

Finally, let me introduce about our signature-collecting campaign which started 6 years ago. Our purpose is to cooperate with a campaign for a nuclear-free world by 2020. We collected about 300,000 signatures during these 6 years and we are here today to hand in about 45,000 signatures we collected last years alone to the United Nations. We’d like to remember the people's wishes ,and keep the wishes of A-bomb survivor's in mind.

We have 'Bible' class in our school. When we prepared this presentation, we remembered this passage, from the First Book of the Kings chapter 18,verse 21. I will read it.

''Elijah went up to the people and said, ‘How much longer will it take you to make up your minds? If the LORD is God, worship him; But if Baal is God, worship him!’”

We must choose making peace rather than war.

We have grown up in Hiroshima , and know the fear of the A-bomb. Moreover we cherish the desire toward a world without nuclear weapons by means of meeting a lot of people and having many experiences. Even though the A-bomb victims will disappear in the near future, we will continue to send out a message from Hiroshima to all over the world not to repeat the same tragedy.

We are deeply grateful to all the people involved in our activities.

From now on, along with Mayors for Peace, we will continue to appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons in order to realize a world without nuclear weapons.

Thank you for listening.