Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo delivered the following statement on September 25 at the 5th General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP)held in Astana, Kazakhstan, September 24-26, 2009:
On behalf of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), I would like to welcome the opening of the 5th General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) and express our sincere congratulations and solidarity to you all.
The Conference, now celebrating its fifth meeting, is attended by a number of political parties from all over Asia, both ruling and opposition. It has become a forum to jointly work for an order guaranteeing peace in Asia and the world, while rejecting war, aggression, and hegemony. Sincerely hoping that the Astana conference will take a robust step forward based on the achievements reached by the past conferences, I would like to talk on the subject: "Toward a World Without Nuclear Weapons."
Dear friends, the Japanese people have suffered untold disasters as a result of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and got first-hand experience of the cruel and inhuman nature of nuclear weapons. People in Kazakhstan, the host nation of this conference, also experienced the same sort of unbearable suffering. The former Soviet Union carried out 456 nuclear tests for 40 years at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, exposing more than one million people to radiation and destroying Kazakhstan's beautiful nature and ecosystem. I felt utmost pain when I found that the tragic consequences have affected children and persisted generation after generation.
The Kazakh people won the closure of the nuclear test site thanks to a strong national struggle, and after they became independent, gave up nuclear weapons on their own will to become nuclear-free. Kazakhstan also played a major role in establishing the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone with the five Central Asian countries as members. Rejecting the policy of securing their "safety" by maintaining nuclear weapons, the Kazakh people chose the path of genuinely ensuring safety by renouncing nuclear weapons. I think this was a courageous choice that has contributed to peace in Asia and the world.
Inasmuch as Japan experienced first hand an atomic bombing, on behalf of a political party in Japan that has resolutely worked for the elimination of nuclear weapons, I would like to stress the following: Together with Japan, Kazakhstan has suffered from nuclear weapons more than any other country. At this conference let us express to the world our common determination to bring about a world without nuclear weapons.
Friends, a new situation is developing in the world around the elimination of nuclear weapons. In a speech delivered on April 5 in Prague, U.S. President Barack Obama said, "as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act." He also said, "I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," declaring for the first time as a U.S. president the elimination of nuclear weapons as a national goal. Full-heartedly welcoming the speech, I sent him a letter conveying our views on how we can best achieve a world free of nuclear weapons, and requesting that he take the initiative on this issue. A cordial reply was sent back from the U.S. government, which impressed upon me the big change that is taking place in the United States.
How can humanity attain "a world without nuclear weapons"? Needless to say, partial measures for nuclear disarmament have profound significance: On-going negotiations for a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the United States and Russia (START), the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and pursuing a fissile materials cut-off treaty (FMCT) are all significant advances in themselves. Obviously, spreading nuclear weapon-free zones across the world, such as the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty that followed the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, has had great significance.
But at the same time, we firmly believe only when these partial measures are tackled together with the goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons, can we open the path toward "a world without nuclear weapons." This is because, having seen negotiations for partial measures, there are still more than 20,000 nuclear weapons stockpiled all over the world. I think the whole process postwar has proved that "a world without nuclear weapons" cannot be achieved only through partial measures in the absence of the objective of abolishing nuclear weapons themselves. What is necessary to realize "a world without nuclear weapons"? It is commencement of international negotiations on the abolition of nuclear weapons themselves. This call is now shared by the majority of the UN member countries. If such a call is sent out from Kazakhstan to the world, I believe it will be a great contribution to international efforts for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Friends, the same holds true for the regime of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The JCP is of course against an increase in the number of nuclear-weapon states for any reason, but it has consistently criticized the discriminatory inequality of the treaty, unprecedented in history, because it allows the five powers to possess nuclear weapons while imposing on the other countries the obligation of non-possession.
Even so, the international community accepted the regime only because the nuclear powers pledged that they would make sincere efforts for the elimination of nuclear weapons in accordance with Article VI of the NPT. Yet the existence of this treaty has not prevented new nuclear-weapon states from coming into existence. To be candid, underlying this is the fact that the nuclear powers have not been true to their pledge in the last 39 years since the NPT entered into force.
Nevertheless we are seeing a change even on this issue in the international community. In s speech delivered in Cairo in June after the one in Prague in April, President Obama said, "I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. (…) That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons," expressing his understanding of the protest against the inequality in the NPT regime, and his commitment to the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Then on September 24, the UN Security Council session on nuclear disarmament discussed the draft resolution submitted by the U.S. government, and declared its commitment to creating "the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons," resolving to pursue negotiations in good faith for nuclear disarmament, pursuant to Article VI of the NPT. This is a step forward and we welcome it wholeheartedly.
Looking back over the last ten-year history of the NPT Review Conferences, the 2005 NPT Review Conference disaffirmed the agreement reached in the 2000 NPT Review Conference: "an unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals." We must rectify this course of events and win a forward-looking agreement. In other words, it is an urgent major task in international politics to urge nuclear-weapon states to reconfirm their "unequivocal undertaking" for the total elimination of nuclear weapons in the May 2010 NPT Review Conference, thus taking a step forward in our efforts to approach and achieve the goal.
Respected chairperson and dear friends, taking these into consideration, I propose that the following three points be included in the Astana Declaration due to be adopted tomorrow.
First, to declare to the world our common determination for "a world without nuclear weapons."
Second, to call on the world to start international negotiations with abolition of nuclear weapons as the theme.
Third, to urge the nuclear-weapon states to reaffirm their "unequivocal undertaking" to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals in the next year's NPT Review Conference, thus taking a step forward in our efforts to approach and achieve the goal.
The only guarantee against nuclear weapons being used, and thus against creating new victims of a nuclear explosion, is to create "a world without nuclear weapons." I really hope that these messages will be sent out to the world from this historic conference in Kazakhstan, a country that has advanced, based on its own bitter experiences with nuclear-weapons tests, to following a courageous path to renounce nuclear weapons, and usher in the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone.
I would like to conclude my speech by expressing my determination to work harder so that Japan, the world's first A-bombed country, can become "nuclear-free" in name and reality, and finally take initiative toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Thank you very much for your attention.
- Akahata, September 27, 2009