On January 22, 2021, the Treaty on the Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons (TPNW finally entered into force. To celebrate this historic moment, various actions were taken across the world. Below is a summary of actions taken in Japan during this period.
January 21: Press Conference with Hibakusha and Peace Boat’s Kawasaki Akira
Two Hibakusha representing Nihon Hidankyo (Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations), Kodama Michiko and Wada Masako, gave a press conference together with Peace Boat Executive Committee member Kawasaki Akira at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. Watch the video below.
January 22: Actions in Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki
A delegation of atomic bomb survivors met with Japanese government officials and Diet members in Tokyo to urge Japan to sign and ratify the TPNW. Prior to this day, Nihon Hidankyo had conducted a questionnaire to all parliamentarians regarding their stance on the TPNW, and announced on this day the launch of a new signature campaign to demand the government of Japan to sign and ratify the TPNW. Many opposition party representatives attending on the day gave statements in support of Japan either signing and ratifying the TPNW, or at the least attending the forthcoming meeting of States Parties as an observer. Government and ruling Liberal Democratic Party representatives, however, repeated their stance that Japan cannot join the TPNW, and expressed caution over Japan’s attendance as an observer. On the other hand, the representative of Komeito, the junior party in the ruling coalition with the LDP affiliated with Soka Gakkai International, requested the government of Japan to attend as an observer.
In Nagasaki, Hibakusha and other citizens gathered in the Peace Park and deflated 140 balloons in an action symbolising the 14,000 nuclear weapons that still exist in the world today, calling for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
In Hiroshima, citizens gathered in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima and created a candle message that read, "NO NUKES FUTURE TPNW 2021" (see top photo also). This action was broadcast live on ICAN’s Instagram by a team of young people from local organisations ANT-Hiroshima and the Peace Culture Village, and is now archived on ICAN's Instagram. Footage can also be seen here (Japanese only) as well as on ICAN’s Flickr account.
As a part of the Peace Boat Hibakusha Project Online, Peace Boat US co-sponsored an online event and the launch of a new campaign "Reverse the Trend and Welcoming the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons", organized by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and other partners. Hiroshima survivor and enamel mural artist Tanaka Toshiko also spoke at this event, sharing her testimony and journey using art in her quest for nuclear abolition. Please see here for a detailed report of the event.
January 23-26: "Every Second Counts for Survivors! Peace Boat Hibakusha Project Online"
Peace Boat launched a new online project in 2020 to conduct online Hibakusha testimonies in 190 countries and regions around the world. To date, 12 events have been held in nine countries, including two during this period of celebration - Australia on January 22, and Brazil on January 26.
The event in Australia was hosted by the City of Fremantle, Western Australia and the local Mayors for Peace Fremantle. About 30 people incuding Mayor Brad Pettitt gathered to listen to the testimony, including also a representative of the Consulate-General of Japan in Perth, UNHRC associates, school teachers and more. For the event hosted in Brazil, 100 people gathered to listen to the story of Ms Watanabe Junko, who lives in Brazil and gave her testimony in Portugese. Please see Peace Boat's dedicated GoFundMe site for more detailed reports of events (under the Updates tab).
January 23: Collaborative event live from Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki
A 90-minute collaborative event was successfully held online from the three cities of Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, bringing together a wide range of groups including NGOs, Mayors for Peace, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Hiroshima Prefecture, student and youth groups, business leaders and more. The event began with video messages from United Nations Under-Secretary-General of Disarmament Affairs Nakamitsu Izumi, and Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez, who served as President of the United Nations Conference that negotiated the TPNW. In addition, messages were also introduced from President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer, ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn, and Hibakusha Setsuko Thurlow. More than 3,000 people viewed the event online. The Hibakusha Appeal International Signature Campaign also reported at the event its success in collecting 13.7 million signatures by the completion of the campaign at the end of 2020.
This event was made possible through the collaboration of two major Japanese nuclear abolition platforms – the Japan NGO Network for Nuclear Weapons Abolition and the Hibakusha Appeal International Signature Campaign. Peace Boat is honoured to be playing a central role in facilitating this process.
Media Response and Next Steps
The actions outlined above have been widely covered by the media in Japan, with many national and local newspaper editorials arguing that Japan should join (sign and ratify) the TPNW. Particularly, the efforts of young leaders in lobbying parliamentarians and mobilising public opinion has been a great focus of media attention.
Meetings will be held between Japanese NGOs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as a debate with parliamentarians, later in February. It is hoped that these efforts can encourage the government of Japan to decide to attend the first Meeting of State Parties as an observer, even if it will not yet commit to joining the treaty. The year 2021 will also see a general election in Japan, where campaigners plan to make sure that the issue of nuclear disarmament is also a key agenda.