This week, governments and citizens from around the world were to have gathered in New York to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and how well states are complying with their commitments, not just to limit the spread of nuclear weapons but also to work towards general and complete nuclear disarmament.
Over 1,000 people from Japan were also planning to travel to New York to participate in related actions. Although the conference was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we must make sure that debate action for nuclear disarmament can continue. For this reason, on April 28, 2020 Peace Boat convened our own online gathering for people from around the country to themselves review the NPT.
The conference was held with participants on Zoom, while 600 people also joined the live streaming on Youtube. In the first section, Dr Nakamura Keiko of Nagasaki University and Peace Boat's Kawasaki Akira and Hatakeyama Sumiko gave presentations on current debates on the NPT, a comparison of the NPT and Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and new weapons technologies, respectively.
This was followed by a second section, where over fifteen groups introduced their actions for nuclear abolition - from Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to high school and university students, religious leaders, parliamentarians, media, civil society leaders and more.
Participants ranged from 16 to 88 years of age, from all over Japan and indeed some joining from outside the country. The dynamic discussion highlighted that despite the current serious crisis the world is facing, many people are eager to learn and take action to create a better world together. The event was featured by Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, as well as other major news outlets such as the Asahi Shimbun.
Peace Boat will continue to develop more opportunities for people to connect, learn, debate and take action online even as we are not able to gather in person. Particularly as we approach the historic 75th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, we hope to make this difficult time an opportunity for more and more people to be able to come together for interactive discussion and action together to deal with the urgent global dangers we face.