People who convey the “Spirit of Hiroshima”
   Yes! To the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons
   We cannot miss this golden opportunity!
   ― Activities of the ‘Yes! Campaign’ Executive Committee ―

The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol was announced in April 2008 by Mayors for Peace, the organization chaired by the Mayor of Hiroshima, and with membership of approximately 3,400 cities throughout the world are members as of December 1, 2009. The Protocol is a concrete roadmap aiming for the abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020, and we are seeking adoption of the Protocol at the NPT (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) Review Conference in 2010.

To ensure that the adoption of the Protocol is proposed as a discussion topic at the NPT Review Conference, we are first aiming to stir up public opinion among citizens and municipalities in Japan. This is the intention behind the citizen-led Yes! Campaign. This time we interviewed Ms. Erika Abiko, who is the secretary-general of the campaign secretariat.

What triggered your involvement in this campaign?
In the period from the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the present, atomic bomb survivors and many others have constantly hoped for the abolition of nuclear weapons, and various movements for this cause have been implemented. However, as you are aware, over 23,000 nuclear weapons still remain throughout the world, and even today countries are conducting nuclear tests. This matter involves political and diplomatic issues between nations, and there had been no major progress in moves aiming for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

 Up until now I myself have listened to the testimonies of atomic bomb survivors and have been involved in peace-related activities, and in doing so I have strongly felt that no atomic bomb should ever be dropped on any country ever again. However, to be honest, I could never feel absolutely sure that nuclear weapons could actually and realistically ever be abolished.

 However, in April last year, the newly-elected President of the United States, President Obama, gave a speech in Prague in the Czech Republic, where he stated that America has a “moral responsibility” to act to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons.

 If that major power is going to move on this, maybe it will be possible to abolish nuclear weapons! After that the government changed in Japan as well, and Prime Minister Hatoyama stated “Whether a country possesses nuclear weapons or not, it is the responsibility of all nations on Earth to act for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation”. In this way it seemed that the possibility of achieving the abolition of nuclear weapons would become greater and greater.

 We will probably never again have such an opportunity. We can definitely get rid of nuclear weapons if we act now. Thinking this, I looked for specific methods, and when I found out about the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol and the launch of this campaign, I immediately got involved.

What kind of activities are you involved in at the moment?

I have two core activities. One is the sale of Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol Picture Book, which is a more colloquial and easy-to-understand picture book version of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol, whose wording and content is difficult, due to the fact that it is a treaty document. This is to ensure that it is understood by many people. This book was created with the support of Mr. Seitaro Kuroda, an internationally-known illustrator. It went on sale in August last year, and with many orders from people not just living in Hiroshima, but from all over the country, and we have already sold 10,000 copies.

 The other activity is the Nationwide Caravan activity, in which the proceeds from the sale of the book are used to travel with atomic bomb survivors to municipalities around the country, to ask leaders to provide their signature to assent to the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol.

The members of the Caravan team holding the forms signed by the leaders of various Regions (from left, Mr. Takehisa Yamamoto, Mr. Hiroo Iso, and Mr. Yoshihiko Yagi)
We started with the Chugoku Region in September this year, and have traveled to Kanto, Hokkaido, Kansai, Kyushu and other regions. We have collected a total of 588 signatures (current as of December 14, 2009). This number has jumped dramatically since we started the Caravan activities.

How was the response of citizens and municipalities?As I previously mentioned, with the assistance of current trends, there are many municipality leaders who view this activity positively and have provided their signature in agreement. Although there are some who do not sign, this is a very interesting activity, as it gives us an understanding of what kind of stance each of the different municipalities has towards nuclear weapons. In addition, as the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol is generally not very well known, I think that we need to implement more PR activities, including the picture book.

Please give a message to the readers of this newsletter
The existence of nuclear weapons is a global issue. As it is such a large issue, people tend to think that there is nothing that they can do. However, there are many things that each individual can do to abolish nuclear weapons, and this campaign is one of them. Encouraging family members and friends to become involved and starting with things that you can do will lead to a major groundswell. Even if what one person can do is only small, if we can join forces and take the initiative even if we become a little lost along the way, I believe that the abolition of nuclear weapons will definitely become a reality. That is why I want to act proactively based on the catch phrase of “Yes! To the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons”.

Thank you very much.

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