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Speech by Yuri NAGAO, Vice President of ZENROREN,
International Meeting, 2018 World Conference against A & H Bombs

Vice President,
National Confederation of Trade Unions(ZENROREN),
August 2, 2018

I am Yuri NAGAO, vice president of Zenroren, the National Confederation of Trade Unions of Japan. It is now over one year since the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted at the United Nations. The period of over one year since then made us time and again confirm the true value of the TPNW and Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution to defend peace and security of Japan and the world.

One year ago, we could not fare one day, under the heightening military tension between North Korea and the United States, without wishing that the nuclear button would not be pressed due to any misunderstanding or misinformation, or by accident. Once used, the consequences of nuclear weapons will totally be unacceptable regardless of friends and enemies. The only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again, I believe, is to abolish nuclear weapons on earth. So, I hope that the TPNW, which will open the way to it, should be put into force one day as soon as possible.

Further, given the increasing danger of contemporary war going nuclear, it is of utmost importance to not allow the outbreak of war. I therefore heartily wanted all parties in conflict to have dialogues between them. The ROK-DPRK summit talks took place in last April, and the US-DPRK Summit followed in June. Witnessing the start of the peace process through dialogue and diplomacy, I feel confident that by making use of Article 9 we can contribute to the settlement of the problem.

The TPNW and Article 9 are our hope to lead Japan and the world to peace. Besides, they embody Hibakusha’s deep desire. Prime Minister Abe and his Administration, however, are taking disruptive attitude to them both. The international campaign in support of the Hibakusha Appeal and the 30-million signature drive to stop the Abe-led revision of Article 9, are the two important signature campaigns that will put an end to the Abe government and bring about a non-nuclear government that will work for peace. Even at this moment there are many friends of ours and colleagues who are engaged to distribute leaflets or to show their signs in the street, or who are visiting people door-to-door to ask for signatures. We are determined to do our utmost to attain the target of 30 million signatures reflecting the voices of “No to War”, so as to be able to hand over a world without nuclear weapons and without war to our children.

In my Confederation, young members have been activated through the 30-million signature campaign. Some of those who participated in the union’s study tour to Okinawa felt that they “learned in Okinawa that the war was not really over”, and that they “had to learn a lot more”. In reviewing the tour, they decided to take up the Japanese Constitution as a “temporary text” to read, and are studying its Preamble and the constitutionalism.

“Constitution Cafe” is spreading here and there, where people discuss questions picked up from conversations among young people, such as: “What to do if North Korea invades us?”, or “Anything will change if Article 9 is revised?” After learning, tempted to speak publicly what they learned, young people started actions. Engaged in the public speech outdoors through microphone, signature collection, or any other form of action for the first time, they further realized that young people tend to stop and listen to the speeches when speakers were young, thus deepening confidence in their own actions. Besides, the dialogue-style publicity action, unique to young people, such as “seal voting”, is a fresh stimulant to veteran activists.

In industries, unionists are talking about the relationship between their jobs and the Constitution. Port workers, for example, take up in their conversation the bitter experiences in history. During the last war, sea ports were tuned to logistic bases and were thus made targets to the air raids. Or during the Korean War they had to be engaged in loading and unloading of guns, ammunitions or even dead bodies at gunpoint of US military. Port workers unions are now united regardless of difference in organization or affiliation in refusing to transport earth and sand used to fill Henoko Bay for the new US Base in Okinawa. Without peace, neither life nor daily living, nor jobs, nor even pride as workers can be protected. That is why unions are active in peace movement.

Zenroren will mark the 30th anniversary of the formation in 1989. We are very proud that Zenroren’s Mission Statement adopted at the founding Convention upholds our commitment to prevent nuclear war and abolition of nuclear weapons, and we have been active and committed to it since then. Let me conclude my speech by assure you that building broad unity and solidarity we will fulfill our mission as a trade union confederation of this A-bombed country.

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