August 23, 2015

World Conference against Atom & Hydrogen Bombs

J S Majumdar

NIRANJAN Chatterjee from West Bengal and I, as its functionaries were nominated by the CITU to participate in the 2015 World Conference against Atom and Hydrogen Bombs which was held at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan from August 2-9. The significance of this year’s conference was that it was being held on the occasion of 70 years of atom bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; September 26 being the UN General Assembly designated ‘International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons’; and during countrywide protest in Japan against the Abe government’s militarisation Bill in Diet (parliament) of Japan for US-Japan nuclear umbrella in violation of Art 9 of Japan’s Constitution. INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE MEETING & THE CONFERENCE 146 representatives from 21 countries, representing 65 national organisations and seven international/regional organisations, including the CITU, participated in the three day international committee meeting, held at Hiroshima from August 2-4, having its plenary sessions, workshops and conclusions in a draft declaration of the conference. On behalf of the CITU both of us spoke at the meeting. As CITU representative, I also participated and contributed in the drafting committee meeting of the conference declaration. This was followed by holding the conference with international committee’s delegation and Japan’s area-wise peace movement organisations, organisations of women, youth and students, celebrities and Hibakusha (atom bomb and radiation affected people) at Hiroshima on August 4-6 and at Nagasaki on August 7-9. The invitees and guests, who addressed the conference, included Kim Won-soo, the UN high representative for disarmament affairs; Fernando Gonzalez Llort, the vice president of Cuban Institute of Friendship with Peoples and one of the five heroes of Cuba; Shii Kazuo, the chairman of the Japanese Communist Party; Md Anshor, the deputy permanent representative of Indonesia to UN; Dr Shane Reti Whangarei, member of the parliament from New Zealand; Pierre Laurent of the French Communist Party. On August 6 morning, there was a national ceremony at Peace Park, about 600 metres away from the hypocentre (where the atom bomb was dropped) and opposite the Atom-Dome (the monument of destruction remains) across the river in Hiroshima. Mass silence was observed precisely at 8.15 hrs when the atom bomb exploded on August 6, 1945 killing 1.45 lakh people out of a total 2.55 lakh population of Hiroshima at that time. The memorial ceremony was attended by the entire international delegation, national dignitaries including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and thousands of people coming from different parts of Japan. In the concluding session of the conference at Nagasaki, on the day of atom bombing of this city on August 9, I was in the chair. While introducing myself I told that at the call of CITU, having 5.5 million membership, the workers and thousands of other sections of the people were holding rallies in India on that very day in solidarity with the people of Nagasaki as part of CITU’s anti-imperialist campaign; the conference hall with 6000 plus delegates reverberated in applause. CONFERENCE DECLARATION The conference declaration has four sections – for prevention and elimination of nuclear arms; for peaceful resolution of regional conflicts; against militarisation Bill of the Abe government and peace for social and economic justice and protection of environment. In the first section, the declaration says, “Now, is the time for the peoples, governments and international organisations to come together to accomplish the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons without delay.” It says, “We regret that the 9th Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (April-May 2015) failed to agree on a final document due to opposition from the US, the UK and Canada…however, …at the drafting stage of the final document, the need for treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons was formulated for the first time. …Further, as seen in the joint statement on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapon, joined by 159 states.” The declaration says, “We warmly welcome the final agreement on Iran’s nuclear program reached through the efforts for peaceful solution. We call for a diplomatic solution of North Korea’s nuclear issue. We support the creation and expansion of nuclear weapon-free zones. We demand an international conference for a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction be promptly convened as agreed upon by the past NPT review conferences.” On regional conflicts the declaration states, “To achieve regional peace and security on the basis of peace principles of the UN Charter and by non-military means…To resort to deterrence simply generates a vicious circle of tension and arms build-up. We call for peaceful settlement of all international conflicts in compliance with international law.” In the third section, the declaration states, “The Japanese people’s movement against war bills, supported by public opinion, is making unprecedented progress.” The planned war legislation, “Underlying it is a policy to rely on “nuclear umbrella” provided by the US and even to condone the use of nuclear weapons, the attitude that is utterly incompatible with the position as an A-bombed country….We express our solidarity with the movement of Japan to scrap the war bills in defense and advocacy of Japan’s Constitution, the struggle of Okinawa against the construction of a new US base and to the movement to achieve a nuclear-free and peaceful Japan.” The final section of the declaration says, “We will work in solidarity with the people who stand up against war, for peace, for the solution of poverty and social inequality, for the reduction of military expenditures, for people’s livelihood, jobs and social welfare, for freedom and democracy, for climate change prevention and protection of global environment, for overcoming sexual and all other types of discrimination, and against social injustice. Together, let us move forward to achieve a “nuclear weapon free, peaceful and just world.” POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS During our stay in Japan, newspapers widely reported on people’s movement against the militarisation bill and survey report showing sharp drop of popular support to the Abe government, majority people opposing the Abe government on militarisation bill. It is reported that Prime Minister Abe assured the US Congress during his visit to USA that the militarisation bill would be adopted by December 2015. He is, therefore, desperately rushing it through Diet without caring for public opinion depending on his party’s brute majority in the parliament. The bill volatiles the three non-nuclear principles in the Japan’s Constitution. In Japan’s parliament, Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party has 292, main opposition Democratic Party 73, Innovation Party 40, Kometo 35 and Japanese Communist Party 21 members. In my speech, I brought the issue of attempts by US-India-Japan military axis to contain China. Many of the speakers expressed the same view on Japan-US military axis. As a corollary issue, Missile Defence Shield of USA with nuclear weapons came up for discussion. It is reported that world-wide the imperial USA is having 1000 bases, many of which are with missile shield all in the name of ‘Defence’! The inter-active discussion pointed out that ‘Missile Defence System’ is responsible for arms race. Yet, 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to US President Barack Obama for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people" as stated by Nobel Prize Committee, and - cite_note-NPP-1Obama's promotion of nuclear non-proliferation and a "new climate" in international relations! Interestingly, in the interactive discussion, when asked as to how the Cuba and USA established diplomatic relations proving the deterrence theory wrong, the Cuban leader gave the reasons as 50 years of heroic resistance by the Cuban people; changed political situation in Latin America with the inclusion of Cuba; declaration of Latin America as a zone of peace; failure of US policy and difference within policy framers on the approach towards Cuba; changed demographic composition in USA; etc. However, many issues are yet to be dealt like the continuation of economic blockade, interpretation of rules by the president and the US Congress, formalisation of relations, US illegal naval base etc. On August 5, we visited (from outside) the US Iwakuni Air Base with permanent US force living in huge areas with their 1600 families. We heard about large number of litigations by the local Japanese people due to the noise pollution, disturbance and related ailments. We also saw large number of banners surrounding the base, hoisted by the local people in the prefecture (county) demanding removal of US army and their families and return of the land to them. We also visited the permanent nursing homes for the Hibakushas, most of whom are nearing 80 and above years of age.