Commemorative speech on the 95th anniversary of the founding of the JCP
Historic upheavals and the Japanese Communist Party
--JCP advance in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election and the JCP Contribution to the UN Conference on a nuclear weapons ban treaty
Japanese Communist Party Chair
July 19, 2017
Japanese Communist Party Chair Kazuo Shii gave a commemorative speech on July 19 at a speech assembly to celebrate the 95th anniversary of the founding of the JCP.
Good evening to everyone in the hall and to those viewing the live internet broadcast. I am Kazuo Shii of the Japanese Communist Party. I am glad to see so many of you coming to this venue. I express my appreciation for your participation.
On July 15, 2017, the JCP marked the 95th anniversary of its founding under two pleasing historic upheavals taking place both at home and overseas. One is the JCP victory in the July 2 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election. Another is the first-ever adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the UN Conference held in New York City on July 7.
Focusing on these two topics, today’s talk is entitled, “The historic upheavals and the JCP.”
JCP Victory in Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election -- reasons why JCP can win in elections even when facing difficult situations
“JCP advances in Tokyo assembly election and LDP suffers crushing defeat. This was the happiest election of my life.”
First of all, the JCP increased its number of seats to 19 from its pre-election strength of 17 in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election. The JCP received 770,000 votes, about a 190,000 increase from the previous election four years ago.
This JCP advance takes on a different meaning in contrast to a series of JCP advances in previous elections. After the election, we received many comments. Some said, “In the previous elections, while the JCP advanced, the Liberal Democratic Party also won at the same time. However, in this election, the JCP won a victory and the LDP suffered a crushing defeat. This was the happiest election of my life.” I had the same impression as this comment expressed. In this election, the JCP competed with the LDP for the last seat in several constituencies and won.
I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Tokyoites who voted for JCP candidates, and our supporters and JCP members for working hard for a JCP victory. This JCP victory achieved by the 19 candidates was a result of collective efforts to win the election made by all 37 candidates, including 18 candidates who failed to achieve a victory. I sincerely respect all campaign activities done by JCP members and supporters. This is not only a victory for Tokyo, but also a victory for the country. On behalf of the Central Committee, I would like to express my warmest appreciation to all party members across the country who fought for the JCP victory in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election and who provided psychological and material support to the party organizations in Tokyo.
The JCP Tokyo Metropolitan Committee will mainly conduct a review of this election campaign from various angles. I will talk about my impressions of the election campaign as one who joined in the election campaign.
JCP enjoys support from non-LDP voters under collapse of support base for LDP -- election under difficult situation
Actually, this Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election campaign was carried out under a difficult situation. Our electoral battle was not easy.
In previous national and Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly elections, in the case where a support base for the LDP had collapsed, the JCP was forced to lose its seats because intermediate political parties between the LDP and the JCP that absorbed protest votes against the LDP were established and won the votes. Unfortunately, there were no exceptions so far. The JCP suffered regrettable setbacks in the elections where the voters came under strong pressure to choose “either the LDP or the non-LDP” in 1993 and to elect a government led by either “the LDP or the DPJ” in 2009.
In this election, a new intermediate party which absorbed protest votes against the ruling parties, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike’s local party “Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First),” came on the political scene under the collapse of the support base for the LDP. As a result, the “Tomin First no Kai” obtained 55 seats, or more than 40% of all 127 seats in the metropolitan assembly. It seemed as if the total number of seats in the assembly was suddenly reduced by 40%. Why was the JCP able to win the election despite such a difficult situation?
Firstly, I can say that our political assertion which stressed the political confrontation of the “LDP-Komei coalition government versus the JCP” was accurate. Moreover, all 17 JCP members who won in the previous Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election four years ago achieved an exceptional performance in major issues, such as the plan to relocate the central wholesale market from Tsukiji to Toyosu and improvement of welfare and people’s livelihoods. Furthermore, every candidate was quite capable and attractive. I realized this when delivering street speeches with them. Also, there were great efforts and struggles for the JCP victory made by JCP members and supporters both in Tokyo and across the country. In addition to these reasons for victory, I think that the following two points are important.
Unprecedented collapse of Abe-led LDP-Komei government – high expectations for JCP as the most reliable party to counter LDP
Firstly, the collapse of the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe-led LDP-Komei government was more serious than ever before.
Many Tokyo residents expressed anger over the Abe-led LDP government’s personalization of power as seen in the “Moritomo Gakuen” and “Kake Gakuen” scandals and Abe Cabinet’s high-handed policies of disregarding the Constitution as seen in the forcible enactment of the anti-conspiracy law and moves for revision of Article 9. They also became frustrated with the Abe regime that ignores differing opinions. As the election campaign continued, I felt a qualitative change in public criticism of the Abe-led LDP government. More and more people became unable to tolerate not only the Abe government’s policies but also its political stance, and developed a feeling of repulsion. There was nothing to dispel such feelings. When I delivered speeches at many locations in Tokyo during the final stage of the election campaign, I heard forceful opinions directly from Tokyoites, “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should resign,” and “I don’t even want to see his face on the TV anymore.”
Such circumstances revealed the fragility and weakness of the support base for the LDP, and the support base started collapsing during the election campaign. For example, a daughter whose parent was a LDP member as well as a former ward mayor happened to stop and listen to a JCP candidate’s street speech and returned home with excitement. She told her family members, “We should vote for a JCP candidate in this election.” After the discussion with her family, all family members, including the former ward mayor, decided to vote for the JCP candidate.
Ms. Teiko Hoshimi, who is a newly elected JCP metropolitan assembly member, reported the following news. She increased the number of votes obtained by 2.3 times from the previous election and defeated two LDP incumbents in the Meguro constituency. “When I delivered stump speeches at many locations in high-class residential areas, people in Mercedes-Benz vehicles talked to me one after another, ‘I will surely cast my vote for you.’ A man, who came to stand by me, said passionately, ‘Please defeat LDP candidates. Good luck in the election!’ I realized that middle-aged salaried workers who had never responded to my speeches in previous elections reacted in a different way. I got very positive reactions from them.”
The tide of anger towards the Abe-led LDP government was not stemmed by the hastily built intermediate party which absorbed protest votes against the LDP. There was an increasing expectation for the JCP as the lone party which has struggled as the most reliable confrontational party against the Abe-led LDP government in this election race.
Shigeki Uno, a professor in political science at the University of Tokyo pointed out as follows: “There have been extremely strong opposition movements throughout Japan against the Abe-led government’s politics, such as the forcible enactments of the secrets protection law, the national security legislation, and the anti-conspiracy law as well as nuclear power plants resumption. The political party that could absorb such citizens’ protest votes against the LDP was the JCP rather than the Tomin First no Kai.” His comment indicates that voters filled with anger cast their votes for the JCP candidates.
The collapse of the Abe-led LDP government is seen not only in Tokyo, but seen across the country. Let us exert every effort to strengthen the movement to bring down the Abe administration in preparation for the upcoming general election, and bring an end to the LDP rule.
JCP’s appeal and contribution for joint struggle of opposition parties and concerned citizens highly evaluated
Secondly, the fact that the JCP called for and contributed to the joint struggle of opposition parties and concerned citizens received a high evaluation from an unprecedented wide range of people.
In this Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, the JCP supported and endorsed candidates who were members of other political groups or who ran as independents in six constituencies. Meanwhile, the JCP candidates received support and endorsement from other political parties and groups in 21 constituencies. Many local assembly members of Democratic, Liberal, Social Democratic and New Socialist parties and Tokyo Seikatsusha Net as well as independents supported and gave campaign speeches for the JCP candidates at many locations in the Tokyo metropolitan area. We could see unprecedented joint struggles among opposition parties developed in Tokyo. The JCP candidates received heartfelt support speeches from Liberal Party co-leader Taro Yamamoto and former Komei Party vice president Nobuaki Futami. A number of non-affiliated people and civil groups’ members, including JCP supporters, volunteered to work together for a JCP victory in the election. I also had a lot of opportunities to give campaign speeches with them, and many people said with high expectation, “I hope that the JCP will increase its number of seats in order to advance the alliance between opposition parties and concerned citizens.” I was encouraged and pleased by these words.
JCP candidate in the Bunkyo constituency for the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, Yuko Fukute, narrowly lost the election. However, the 26,782 votes (27.9% of total votes cast) obtained were the highest number ever recorded. This number of votes could not have been gained without the strength of the joint struggle of opposition parties with concerned citizens. The JCP members’ group of the Bunkyo Ward Assembly enhanced cooperation in the assembly with members of the Democratic Party, Social Democratic Party, and independents, and adopted the petitions calling for the repeal of security legislation, increase in the construction of nursing-care facilities for the elderly, and implementation of the program limiting class sizes to 35-pupils for public elementary schools and junior high schools. On the basis of the commitment for cooperation, a DP executive member in the area and seven local assembly members from other political parties expressed their support for JCP candidate Yuko Fukute and were involved in her election campaign. Every time I went to deliver a campaign speech for her in Bunkyo, I was deeply moved by their dedication. Such an alliance between opposition parties and concerned citizens was established in Japan’s capital city of Tokyo.
Since the JCP took a step toward offering an alternative to the Abe government in order to bring down the Abe regime by establishing a joint struggle between opposition parties and concerned citizens, the JCP could receive wide-ranging public support overlooking differences in political positions. I think that this JCP enthusiasm to work with others was transferred to many Tokyo residents, resulting in more and more people casting their votes for the JCP candidates.
The 19 seats obtained by the JCP were not brought about by the JCP alone. That was the result of the broad range of joint struggles of opposition parties and concerned citizens. It could be said that it was a “historic” victory won by everyone. I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to members from other political parties and groups as well as non-affiliated people and civil groups’ members who gave warm support for the JCP candidates in the election campaign. In order to respond to their expectations for the JCP, we will promise to make sincere efforts to further develop the joint struggle of opposition parties with concerned citizens.
Demand for prompt snap general election -- let us increase preparedness for joint struggle swiftly
The verdict of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election definitely issued a red card against the Abe government. We will not tolerate the arrogant politics led by PM Abe who was not ashamed of personalization of national politics, violated the Constitution with nonchalance, and casts a hostile eye on people who opposed and criticized his politics. PM Abe dismissed protesting voters and said in his speech, “We cannot lose to people like this.” The Japan’s capital city of Tokyo proclaimed a decisive “No” to the Abe administration in the election. Based on the election results, the JCP strongly demands a prompt snap general election.
Let us work together to strengthen the joint struggle of opposition parties with concerned citizens at the maximum possible speed, and drive the Abe-led LDP-Komei Cabinet into dissolution of the Diet.
In an upcoming general election, let us bring down the Abe administration and create a new direction in politics that reflects citizens’ opinions through the advance of the JCP in the election and the development of the opposition parties –citizens’ collaboration.
Historic adoption of treaty on prohibition of nuclear weapons-- world is changing drastically
Secondly, I would like to talk about a “United Nations conference” negotiating to create a legal prohibition of nuclear weapons. On July 7, the first-ever treaty to make nuclear weapons illegal was adopted at the UN conference held in New York City with support from 122 governments, which is about two-thirds of the UN member states.
“Finally history moves.”
This was the common impression of all the people who took part in the conference. I suppose that everyone who received the big news in Japan also had the same impression. I would like to share the joy of accomplishing this great historic achievement with all of you.
As the head of the JCP delegation, following the first session of the UN conference between March 27 and 31, I took part in the final stage of the second session held from June 15 to July 7. What was achieved in the UN conference? What is a new form of the world in the 21st century that the UN conference established? What will be our future challenges? I would like to talk about these issues, including a report of my visit to NYC.
Historic moment where world moved drastically -- floor filled with cheers and applause
I will recall the events of the final day (July 7) of the UN conference when the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted.
At the moment of the adoption of the treaty, when the number of “122 in favour” of the treaty appeared on the screen ahead of the hall, the participants erupted with joy. The participants elicited a standing ovation, and the floor was filled with cheers and sustained applause. Representatives from governments and civil society organizations hugged each other, and celebrated the dawn of a new era. I also felt a joyful excitement that I was able to witness the historic moment where the world moved drastically, and stood up holding up my fists and shouted, “Bravo!”
Following its adoption, nearly 40 representatives of governments made speeches and expressed their strong support for the treaty.
Many representatives one after another expressed their deepest gratitude to Hibakusha, atomic bomb survivors, for having been the driving force in the creation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. A representative of South Africa said that she would like to pay Hibakusha here today a heartfelt compliment, since their enthusiasm enabled the creation of this treaty.
Civil society groups and organizations that became official members of the conference also received many compliments of solidarity. A representative of Chile honoured the contribution of civil society, which had provided a moral compass for the negotiation. The representative went on to say that civil society groups and organizations were true colleagues in this negotiation.
Ms. Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, who lives in Canada also made a speech. She said, “I never thought I would see this moment. I have been waiting for this day for seven decades, and I am overjoyed that it has finally arrived. This is the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons. To the leaders of the countries across the world, I beseech you, if you love this planet, you will sign this treaty.” Participants responded with thunderous applause.
President of the conference Elayne Whyte gratefully acknowledged Ms. Setsuko Thurlow for her speech and closed the conference, saying, “Today, we have a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons,” the floor was again filled with loud applause and cheers.
I heard that it is not customary to applaud at UN meetings. In the Diet meeting in Japan, parliamentarians often jeer at or applaud a speaker. It was probably the first time in the history of the United Nations that sustained applause was repeatedly elicited in a UN meeting. Those scenes of elation represented how the adoption of this treaty is historic.
JCP Contribution to UN conference on TPNW in Japanese government’s absence
After the adoption of the treaty, I came on to express my congratulations to UN conference president Elayne Whyte, and said, “On behalf of the Japanese citizens, I welcome the adoption of the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the conference president for your splendid leadership.” She responded, “I would like to thank you, too. I appreciate your participating enthusiastically in both the first and second sessions of the UN conference as a member of civil society.” I then said, “I will make every effort to urge the Japanese government of the only A-bombed country in the world to join in this treaty.” She said with a huge smile, “I am expecting Japan to participate in the treaty.” I would like to commit myself and our party to work to fulfil this international promise.
As the head of the JCP delegation, I submitted my written request and written statement to the UN conference and also had talks with representatives of 38 national governments and organizations in the first session of the UN conference in late March. On behalf of the JCP, I could deliver an official speech at a UN meeting for the first time. As my speech is posted on the official website of the United Nations, please view it on the website.
The key point we requested was as follows: Regarding the negotiation for a nuclear weapons ban treaty, while seeking the participation of nuclear weapons states, even if they do not join the process to begin with, a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons should be concluded without delay. The contents of the treaty will not require detailed procedures for eliminating nuclear weapons. We should create a treaty that can create a consensus by the majority of UN member nations as a first step towards a total elimination of nuclear weapons.
This key point of our request was shared among a number of participating countries in the conference. The conference progressed in this direction, brought together international wisdom, and created a historic treaty. In the respect, the JCP could contribute to the success of the conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.
From Japan, representatives from the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo) and the Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Japan Gensuikyo) participated in the UN conference and made a great contribution to the success of the conference. They talked about their experiences as atomic bomb survivors and submitted to the UN nearly 3 million Hibakusha Appeal signatures calling for the total abolition of nuclear weapons. However, the Japanese government boycotted the meeting. Under such circumstances, the participation from Japanese political circles was only the JCP. I would like to report with confidence that the JCP, as a political party working in the only A-bombed country in the world, represented the Japanese general public and made a meaningful contribution to the UN meeting.
Treaty denounces inhumane nature of nuclear weapons and extends solidarity with Hibakusha -- “combination of reason and heart”
I would like to now talk about the contents of the adopted nuclear weapons ban treaty. The adopted treaty is as good as possible under the current circumstances and produced with the combined wisdom of the international community.
The “preamble” of the treaty is very important in which the substance of the treaty is included. The treaty in its preamble condemns the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons and clarifies the basis for declaring the illegality of such weapons with reference to the United Nations Charter, international law, and international humanitarian law. The inhumanity of nuclear weapons has been consistently emphasized by Japan’s anti-nuclear movement led by the atomic bomb survivors and civil society organizations since the end of the war. The inhumane nature of nuclear weapons finally reached a common understanding by the global community and was thus included in the preamble of the treaty as a fundamental principle.
The word “Hibakusha” is mentioned in two places in the preamble. One is that the treaty stipulates that the state parties to this treaty are “mindful of the unacceptable suffering of and harm caused to the victims of the use of nuclear weapons (hibakusha).” Another is that the Hibakusha is mentioned in the part of “the role of public conscience” to promote the total elimination of nuclear weapons, alongside of the United Nations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, other international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, religious leaders, parliamentarians and academics. This means that the treaty recognizes Hibakusha as victims who suffered unacceptable damage caused by the use of nuclear weapons as well as creators who have steadfastly worked to create a world without nuclear weapons. The treaty justly evaluates the path followed by the Hibakusha who have been suffering hardships as well as undertaking efforts to achieve the total elimination of nuclear weapons after the war.
President of the UN conference Elayne Whyte at a press conference after the closing of the meeting said that the experiences the Hibakusha, survivors of nuclear bombs, have been sharing “touched every delegate and the human soul.” She went on to say that the process of negotiations at the UN conference was a “combination of reason and heart.” That is a beautiful phrase. I would like to emphasize that the treaty itself is indeed a “combination of reason and heart.”
The treaty also recognizes parliamentarians as key players to increase public conscience. I think this kind of wording in UN documents appears for the first time. I could contribute to this part of the treaty by participating in the anti-nuke movement, and will keep working to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.
“Heart” of the treaty (Article 1) -- nuclear weapons totally banned and illegalized
Article 1, the “heart” (President of the conference Elayne Whyte) of the treaty, prohibits the developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, stockpiling, or transferring nuclear weapons, as well as the use and the threat to use nuclear weapons.
The prohibition of “the threat to use nuclear weapons” was not included in the draft treaty, but was inserted during the negotiation process, and is crucial. Today, nuclear weapons states and their allies stick to the policy of nuclear deterrence which is the security doctrine premised on the threat to use nuclear weapons. It also becomes a tool of nuclear weapons states’ great-power chauvinism and hegemonism by which they threaten other countries with their nuclear weapons and place other countries under their control. The inclusion of “the threat to use nuclear weapons” in the treaty is highly significant as this negates the acceptability of the legitimacy of the concept of nuclear deterrence.
Representatives from many countries criticized nuclear deterrence theory from various angles during the discussion process of the UN conference. I would like to tell you about the speech delivered by a representative from the Austrian delegation, whose criticism of nuclear deterrence theory impressed me very much.
The representative stated as follows: “If nuclear weapons were truly indispensable in providing security, then why should not all states benefit from this advantage? If we follow the argument that nuclear weapons make the world safer, would that not imply that more weapons for more states would be better? We do not believe that argument. Clearly, we will only be safer with less nuclear weapons, with no nuclear weapons. Only that would bring more security for everyone.”
Through such discussions, the treaty negates the acceptability of nuclear deterrence.
The treaty includes articles prohibiting to assist, encourage or induce any activity that is prohibited to state parties under the treaty as mentioned above. Therefore, this article means that the treaty prohibits state parties from relying on the U.S. nuclear umbrella, and from trying to assure their security by assisting, encouraging, or inducing the threat to use nuclear weapons possessed by the U.S..
In addition, state parties are prohibited from allowing other nations’ nuclear weapons to be stationed, installed, or deployed on their territory and from allowing such weapons to be brought onto their territory.
Thus, the treaty has literally closed all loopholes and successfully codifies the illegality of nuclear weapons and stigmatizes them. By creating the treaty, the international community clearly stated that nuclear weapons are now not only inhumane and immoral, but also explicitly illegal for the first time in history.
Treaty created by perseverance of global anti-nuclear weapons movements over 70 years
Another important point is that the treaty also establishes a framework toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons. It stipulates two options for accession of nuclear weapons states in Article 4 of the treaty. One option is that they destroy their nuclear weapons first, then join the treaty. Another option is that they join the treaty first, then destroy them as soon as possible. They can start from either joining the treaty or destroying nuclear weapons. As the participation of nuclear weapons states in the treaty process is vital in order to realize a world free of nuclear weapons, the treaty sends a message to the nuclear weapons states that the treaty leaves open the door for their participation.
The treaty also includes the stipulation of assistance for victims who are affected by the use or testing of nuclear weapons. Article 6 stipulates that each state party must “adequately provide assistance without discrimination” to victims. Article 7 clearly asserts that a state party that has used or tested nuclear weapons must have a “responsibility to provide adequate assistance” to affected states parties. This is a ground-breaking article. If the U.S. joins in this treaty in the future, its responsibility of providing assistance to the victims of the use of nuclear bombs can be called to account. President of the conference Elayne Whyte explained that this treaty is the first-ever multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty to stipulate the responsibility of state party to provide assistance to victims of atomic bombing, and pointed out that the treaty stresses that nuclear weapons are never to be used under any circumstances.
After the war, the anti-nuclear weapons movement in Japan has worked hard to reach three basic goals of preventing nuclear war, totally banning and eliminating nuclear weapons, and supporting and extending solidarity with Hibakusha. The Japanese Communist Party has worked together with this anti-nuclear weapons movement in close solidarity. While fighting against the hegemonic interventions from great powers, we have strongly supported Japan’s peace movement. The treaty reflects what the JCP and Japan’s anti-nuclear weapons movement led by Hibakusha have demanded over the past seven decades.
At the same time, the treaty reflects what global anti-nuclear weapons movements have demanded. The United Nations held its first general assembly in January 1946 and adopted its first-ever resolution, calling for the abolition of atomic armaments. Although there have been many twists and turns since then, the treaty clearly puts on display the advances made in international efforts for the total elimination of nuclear weapons over 70 years. Representative of Cuba, Ambassador Rodolfo Benitez Verson, during talks with the JCP delegation emphasized the historical significance of the treaty and said, “More than a result of the conference that we are participating in for a few weeks, this Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is the result of a process of multilateral discussions held over 70 years.” I think that his statement is exactly right.
Friends, the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons that we obtained on July 7 is the treaty created by global and Japanese anti-nuclear weapons movements over the past seven decades after the war. Let us have confidence and pride in this point in our movement, and move forward toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
Key players in international politics turn from few major powers into many countries and global civil society
What I felt by participating in the UN conference is that the meeting indicated a new form of the world in the 21st century.
This conference marked a historic turning point in international politics beyond the nuclear weapons issue. In this regard, I want to stress the following three points:
The first is that not the major powers but many other nations and global civil society have come to play a leading role in world politics.
In the past nuclear weapons negotiations, nuclear powers such as the U.S. and the former Soviet Union played a key role, and the discussions had been focused on how to maintain and manage their nuclear arsenals. But in this UN conference, banning nuclear weapons became the main subject and the governments of many less powerful countries along with global civil society led the discussions. A total of 122 nations supported the new treaty, and representatives of more than 100 civil society groups joined in the debate. Adding together the numbers, we can see that representatives from around the globe gathered at the venue. This event shows the change of key players.
This is a new world where nations are not ranked according to their size. I was very impressed by the fact that small countries such as Costa Rica, Austria, and Ireland played a major role in leading the debate and earned the respect and trust of the world. Ms. Elaine Whyte, President of the UN conference who led the meeting to great success is a diplomat from Costa Rica with a population of a little over four million. All participants in the conference gave the highest praise to her organizational expertise.
In the conference, representatives of national governments and civil society respected one another. In the speech following the adoption of the treaty, the representative of Egypt stressed civil society’s great contribution to this historic achievement. He said that civic group members might be seated at the back of the room, but their devotion to total disarmament placed them at the forefront of respect.
The era when superpowers can control world politics is coming to an end. The UN conference vividly demonstrated that we have entered a new era when all nations and civil society, people around the world, play a key role in global politics on an equal footing.
The UN conference shows democracy is feasible in global community
The second is the development of democracy in the international community.
The representative of Chile said that this conference demonstrated that it is possible for the global community to not only adopt this treaty but also bring about democracy. He added that democracy defies veto power.
The Geneva Disarmament Conference and the NPT Review Conference are run based on the rule of unanimity. Under this rule, if a world power exercises its veto, no consensus is allowed. Many countries have been increasingly frustrated with this system.
The UN conference, which was run democratically from beginning to end, has made a breakthrough in defying this old custom. During the meeting, various amendments were proposed to the preamble and clauses of the draft treaty. When we attended on July 5, the discussion had entered its closing stages. Participants had a heated debate even at that time, but they prioritized reaching agreement in the end. The discussion was very serious but accompanied by cheerful laughs. An unprecedented procedural revision, in which participants argue on an equal footing and reach a conclusion through democracy, achieved great success. I want to emphasize that the process of creating this treaty was historic as well.
Forces clinging to nuclear weapons pushed into a corner
The third is that the forces clinging to nuclear weapons are increasingly being driven into a corner.
The nuclear weapons states resorted to all possible measures to thwart the treaty process. The representative of South Africa said after the treaty adoption that she appreciates the significant role played by African countries in the conference despite facing “incredible pressure” to boycott the talks. This remark is notable as it indicates that the UN conference attained success in spite of nuclear powers’ obstructions.
After the treaty was adopted, nuclear powers have come to find themselves in a more awkward position. Following the adoption, the three nations – the U.K., France, and the U.S. – issued a joint statement. In that statement, they claim that this convention cannot eliminate “a single nuclear weapon” and also “risks undermining the existing international security architecture”. They insist that this treaty is of no use at all. Then, why do they oppose it so fiercely? If the treaty is actually useless, they should be able to neglect it. The fact that nuclear powers cannot help but oppose it and vilify it shows how powerful the treaty is.
The Japanese government has also been forced into a corner. Although Japan is the only country to have suffered nuclear attacks, the government of Japan turned its back on the negotiations. When Japanese Ambassador to the UN Koro Bessho said that Japan will not sign the treaty, a feeling of anger and disappointment spread among many people not only in Japan but throughout the world.
At a press conference after the UN conference, A-bomb survivor Ms. Setsuko Thurlow strongly criticized the Japanese government, saying, “I feel more than anger or disappointment. The Japanese government repeatedly claims that it will act as a ‘mediator’ between nuclear and non-nuclear states. However, how can it do that without listening to the participants from over 100 countries?”
Mr. Toshiki Fujimori, another A-bomb survivor in Hiroshima, said, “I am boiling with anger, but the people have the power to change government policy. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party suffered a crushing defeat in the recent Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election. The same thing could happen at the national level. No matter how strongly the Japanese government opposes this treaty, I will never give up. I’m determined to work to establish a new government that will help build a nuclear weapons-free world.”
Nuclear powers’ main argument is that it is wrong to make such a treaty when North Korea is pushing ahead with nuclear development. Here, I refer to an interesting argument at a meeting of the UN Security Council which was being held in the UN Headquarters in parallel with the UN conference. At the UNSC meeting, the representative of Uruguay denounced North Korea’s nuclear development and mentioned the nuclear weapons ban treaty which was about to be adopted in another room of the same building. He noted that while neither North Korea nor nuclear powers are in that room, the goal of a safer world is in there.
This statement is very much to the point. If the international community outlaws nuclear weapons and brands them as inhumane, it will no doubt help isolate North Korea and force it to abandon its nuclear weapons program. This is the very goal for a safer world. It is wrong to oppose the nuclear weapons ban treaty under the pretext of North Korea’s nuclear weapons development. As the North is engaged in nuclear weapons development, Japan needs to endorse the treaty. While urging North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons development, the Japanese government should be a party to the convention and declare that it will not seek to hide under a nuclear umbrella any longer. This is the most reasonable argument in persuading North Korea.
The UN conference showed the vibrant picture of many national governments and civil society working together for peace, in stark contrast to the forces sticking to nuclear weapons. It is crystal clear which represents a bright future for humanity.
From ban to elimination of nuclear weapons – go forward by uniting three forces
The adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has marked a new beginning, and our goal is to realize a nuclear weapons-free world, or the total abolition of such weapons.
After the treaty was adopted on July 7, I issued a statement calling for uniting the following three forces in order to go forward from the ban to the elimination of nuclear weapons.
The first is the force the treaty itself has. By stigmatizing and illegalizing nuclear weapons, the treaty exerts pressure both morally and politically on nuclear weapons states and their allies which refuse to participate in the treaty. We have gained a powerful legal norm to move forward toward the total elimination of such weapons.
The second is the force of many of governments and civil society groups and organizations around the world which collectively created the treaty. The fundamental power to achieve a world without nuclear weapons is to increase this force and internationally put pressure on the forces holding on to nuclear arms.
The signing of the treaty will begin on September 20. The first important thing is how soon and on what scale the signing process will advance in the face of possible obstruction by nuclear powers. Therefore, the International Signature Campaign in Support of the Appeal of Hibakusha has become all the more important. I sincerely call for increasing efforts to collect hundreds of millions of signatures from around the world.
The third is the force in each of the nuclear states and their allies to form an overwhelming public opinion supporting the total abolition of nuclear weapons, change the power relation in politics, and build a government to sign the nuclear weapons ban treaty. A world without nuclear weapons will not become a reality until these tasks are accomplished.
For government to take initiative to eliminate nuclear weapons and for international solidarity
It is critically important to change politics in Japan, the only A-bombed country in the world.
The JCP strongly urges the Japanese government to drastically review its current stance and seriously consider joining in the treaty.
The JCP calls for support for the treaty as a common challenge of the alliance of opposition parties with concerned citizens. This appeal will respond to the people’s dearest wish for the elimination of nuclear weapons and contribute to the cause of world peace. Let us work together to develop the opposition parties/citizens alliance and form a new government that will take the initiative in eliminating nuclear weapons.
We also have the determination to work to further promote international solidarity in regard to this issue. When the JCP delegation attended the first session of the UN conference this March, we held talks with Fabian Hamilton, a Member of Parliament from the British Labour Party (the Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament), who also took part in the conference as a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). Mr. Hamilton told us that he will work hard to win in the next general election so that the British government will sign the nuclear weapons ban treaty. Japan won’t be a loser in this field. In response, I talked about the opposition alliance in Japan, and we pledged to fight to achieve our common goal. As you know, the Labour Party achieved remarkable progress in the snap general election in June. Following the poll, Kimitoshi Morihara, the vice chair of the JCP International Commission, visited Britain to meet with Mr. Hamilton who was re-elected by a large margin. In the meeting, the JCP and the Labour Party reached an agreement to hold highest-level talks for world peace and progress.
When attending the second session of the UN conference, we held talks with Bill Kidd, who serves as a co-president of the international group Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) and is a member of the Scottish Parliament from the Scottish National Party (SNP). Mr. Kidd told me that the Scottish government sent UN conference President Whyte a letter expressing its strong support for the treaty. The only place where the British forces deploy nuclear arms is at a submarine base in Scotland. However, the government of Scotland says no to nuclear weapons. Thus, the JCP also agreed with the SNP to enhance mutual cooperation over this issue.
With this historic treaty in hand and by increasing collaboration both at home and abroad, let us work together to realize a world without nuclear weapons as early as possible.
Toward centennial of the JCP foundation – challenge to form opposition coalition government
Today, I spoke on two topics – the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election and the UN conference. Our greatest pleasure in marking the 95th anniversary of the foundation of the JCP is the fact that we have made many friends both in Japan and across the world. I want to stress that at the root of this achievement lies the JCP Program, a reliable compass indicating the future course of Japan and the world.
Listening to the speeches given by Mr. Tetsuzo Fuwa and me, if you felt that the JCP is saying a good thing, fate meant for this to happen. From the bottom of my heart, I invite anyone not already a party member to join the JCP. As for me, I am no match for Mr. Fuwa’s 70-year career as a JCP member, but it has been 44 years since I joined the JCP when I was a university freshman. Looking back on the path I have followed, I think I am really lucky. The JCP is a fine organization working to foster human solidarity and open up a new vista of the future. Now that both Japan and the rest of the world are in this period of great change, I hope many people will join the JCP and work together with us to make history.
In five years, the JCP will mark the centennial anniversary of its foundation. Based on the considerable achievements the party has made in the past 95 years, let us work to promote the newly formed united front, bring down the despotic Abe government, and establish a coalition government organized along progressive lines by the opposition parties.
Long live the JCP’s 95th anniversary!
Thank you very much for your kind attention.
--Akahata, July 22, 2017