Members of the Hibakusha Project with and Peace Boat participants with Lord Laird outside Westminster Palace, London on October 4.

From the Ship

Peace Boat's Hibakusha Project returns from Global Voyage calling for a Nuclear Ban Treaty

Nov 30, 2016

The 9th "Global Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project" which took place onboard Peace Boat's 92nd Global Voyage returned to Yokohama after holding events to share the testimonies of nuclear bomb survivors in 13 countries and 17 cities. Five Hibakusha, two from Hiroshima and three from Nagasaki, took part in the project with the theme "Sharing the Testimonies and Message of the Survivors, Building the Momentum to Ban Nuclear Weapons". They were joined by one second generation Hibakusha and one "legacy messenger". 

Both are experienced in sharing testimony through the stories of their family members and training conducted by the City of Hiroshima to nurture legacy messengers, known in Japanese as "keishosha," or one who passes on the memory and message. Furthermore, two "Youth Communicators for a Nuclear-Free World" also joined the delegation, both active working towards the realization of a nuclear-free world. These 9 participants were all officially designated by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as "Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons" and "Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons" respectively. 

The members of the Hibakusha Project took part in a variety of activities and events, meeting with government officials, and civil society groups calling for support for a global ban on nuclear weapons. During the voyage, on October 27, a landmark resolution to launch negotiations in 2017 on a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons was adopted at the United Nations heralding an end to two decades of paralysis in multilateral nuclear disarmament efforts. At a meeting of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, which deals with disarmament and international security matters, 123 nations voted in favour of the resolution, with 38 against and 16 abstaining. In order to move the nuclear weapons negotiations at the United Nations forward, Peace Boat is carrying out activities to increase in its momentum. The following are examples of Peace Boat's activities during the 9th "Global Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project" onboard Peace Boat's 92nd Global Voyage.

Visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Malaysia 

On August 29, the delegation from the Hibakusha Project visited the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kuala Lumpur, and met with Ikram Mohammad Ibrahim, Undersecretary for Multilateral Security Affairs. Malaysia has demonstrated strong leadership in the movement toward a nuclear free world. In early December 2007, the governments of Costa Rica and Malaysia submitted a Model Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC) to the United Nations General Assembly in order to assist deliberations that would lead to the conclusion of such a treaty. It was an updated version of one submitted in 1997. In addition, Malaysia is party to the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ) or the Bangkok Treaty of 1995, a nuclear weapons moratorium treaty between 10 Southeast Asian member-states under the auspices of the ASEAN. The delegation from Peace Boat met and discussed with Vice Minister Ibrahim. Nagasaki bomb survivor, Fukahori Joji delivered a message for the abolition of nuclear weapons and peaceful world. Vice Minister Ibrahim spoke about the urgent need to bring about a ban on nuclear weapons as soon as possible and the need to increase public awareness of the issue.

Testimony in the Hellenic Parliament 

On September 16, during the Hibakusha Projects visit to Athens, members of the delegation visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and met with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Dimitris Mardas. Mr Fukahori Johji, from Nagasaki spoke about his experiences and how he lost his family members including his mother and three brothers. He stressed that the danger of nuclear weapons is different from that of ordinary weapons. The delegation then visited the Hellenic Parliament, where Mr Morikawa Takaaki who was 6 years old at the time of the bombing of Hiroshima gave testimony to representatives from all the parliamentary political parties in Greece. The events in Athens were organised by Mr Panos Trigazis of the Observatory of International Organizations and Globalization (PADOP), Ms Maria Sotiropoulou the Greek Affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). They concluded with Festival of Peace and Solidarity at the port in Pireaus. The following day on October 17, Ms Tagawa Toyoko of Nagaski gave testimony at the City Hall on Santorini island.

Meeting at the Houses of Parliament in the UK 

The members of the Hibakusha Project visted London, the capital of United Kingdom, a nuclear weapons state. On October 3, a symposium entitled "Protecting our Cities: A Message from Hiroshima and Nagasaki" was organized in collaboration with Mayors for Peace, Acronym, ICAN, CND and the Quakers for Peace on October 3. The symposium included a panel discussion on the humanitarian consquences of nuclear weapons with Fukahori Johji, Higashino Mariko, Kawasaki Akira, the Director of the Hibakusha Project and Rebecca Johnson of Acronym and ICAN. British nuclear weapons policy including the current system of Trident, the recent parliamentary vote to replace Trident with a new nuclear weapons system, remarks by Prime Minister Theresa May that she would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons and the continued transport of nuclear weapons on public roads were all issues covered during the symposium. 

On October 4, a testimony session was held at the House of Lords at Westminster Palace. The delegation were welcomed and hosted at the Houses of Parliament by Professor John Dunn Laird, Baron Laird FRSA of Artigarvan. Both Mr Morikawa Takaaki and Ms Sakishita Noriko spoke about their experiences and called for the UK to abondon its nuclear weapons system and to support a ban on nuclear weapons. The testimony session at the House of Lord was followed by a visit to Oasis Academy where all five of the surivivors gave testimony to 150 students aged 14-15 in an event organised in collaboration with CND Peace Education and Quakers for Peace.

Meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands 

In the Netherlands, in addition to Tagawa Toyoko's testimony at the civil society event in Amsterdam, a number of activities took place at The Hague, also organized by PAX Christi. In April 2014, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) filed applications in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to hold the nine nuclear-armed states accountable for violations of international law with respect to their nuclear disarmament obligations under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law. Sakashita Noriko and Higashino Noriko attended the ruling for the trial against the nine states on October 5 and were there to hear the final ruling. Although the case against the nine states was dismissed by the court, the importance of passing on their testimony and raising further the awareness of the need for a ban was strongly felt by Ms. Sakashita and Ms. Higashino. 

On October 6, Mr Morikawa Takaaki and Mr Kawasaki Akira together with members of Pax Christi met with the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders. In a meeting which lasted over over 40 minutes Foreign Minister Koenders listened to the story of Mr. Morikawa and discussed many issues including the start of negotiations for a draft resolution of a nuclear weapons convention that has been issued to the UN General Assembly.

Seeking a nuclear weapons ban treaty at the United Nations 

When the ship arrived in New York on October 20, a side event entitled "Disarmament Education: The Role of Survivors and Youth" was held during the 71st Session of the General Assembly First Committee at the UN headquarters. It was held jointly by Peace Boat, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Permament Mission of Japan to United Nations.

At this event, during which panels depicting the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were exhibited at the venue, the Permanent Representative of the Marshall Islands to the United Nations, H.E. Amatlain Elizabeth Kabua spoke about the horrors of nuclear tests, which her country experienced. She emphasised the devastation caused at every step of the nuclear cycle. After testimony and appeal of Hiroshima survivor, Mr. Morikawa, the students of Peace Boat's Global University (from five different countries) who had been studying about disarmament and international law on board Peace Boat as it crossed the Atlantic Ocean gave a presentation "What citizens and young people can do.". The following day, participants in the Hibakusha Project gave testimony at the United Nations High School in collaboration with the New York based and UN affiliated NGO, "Hibakusha Stories". 

The activities of the 9th "Global Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project" were reported widely in the media both in Japan and around the world. Following their return to Japan, the Hibakusha, second generation Hibakusha, legacy messenger and youth will speak about the experiences around the world. Peace Boat will continue to work towards to build support for a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons and a nuclear free world.