A United Nations treaty banning nuclear weapons entered into force on January 22. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), is the first treaty to make nuclear weapons illegal by prohibiting the development, possession and use of such weapons. Since it was adopted at a UN conference in 2017 by a vote of 122 countries in favor, the number of state parties that ratified the treaty reached 50 in October last year. It’s been ratified by 51 state parties, so far.
The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) has used its full organization strength to get the treaty enter into force by working with the Hibakusha (Atomic bomb survivors) of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and with many citizens who call for a “world without nuclear weapons.” It wholeheartedly hails the treaty’s entry into force. The government of Japan, the only country to have been attacked with nuclear weapons, continues to turn its back on the treaty. We urge the government to immediately express its support to the treaty and take a lead in the effort to get nuclear weapons abolished. An opinion survey in Japan shows that 70 percent of the respondents say Japan should join the TPNW. The number of the country’s local assemblies that have adopted opinions urging the government to sign and ratify the TPNW stands at 528 as of January 22, 2021. The government of Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide should stop clinging to “nuclear deterrence” or relying on the “nuclear umbrella”.
Zenroren and its member unions have been working steadily to let a wide range of people know the wishes of the Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the damage and aftereffects of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We have been taking part in the Hibakusha-initiated international signature campaign calling for a ban on nuclear weapons with the determination that never again will we work for war, and with the conviction that a peaceful world without nuclear weapons is where we can realize a life we want. We believe that the TPNW’s entry into force has been made possible by the broad grassroots movement.
The nuclear weapon-possessing countries are still competing for the development of nuclear-capable missiles with a view to “modernizing” and reinforcing their nuclear arsenals even at a time when people’s lives are threatened by the coronavirus pandemic. If Japan joins the TPNW, it will have a great positive impact on the nuclear-armed countries and the countries that defend them and make a great contribution to establishing nuclear-free and peaceful Asia.
The Preamble to the Constitution of Japan states: “We recognize that all peoples of the world have the right to live in peace, free from fear and want.” We share with broad sections of the people the belief that “humans and nuclear weapons cannot coexist” and help promote the signature campaign demanding the Japanese government sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. We pledge to make every effort to achieve a truly peaceful and just society free of nuclear weapons.