HIROSHIMA/NAGASAKI: Atomic bomb survivors, known as hibakusha, and antinuclear campaigners in Japan cheered the news that the UN treaty banning nuclear weapons is now set to enter into force on Jan. 22 next year.
At the same time, many of such advocates of a nuclear-free world stepped up their calls on Japan, which is the only atomic-bombed country in the world, and nuclear powers to join the landmark treaty.
“It’s a great step toward the materialization of our long-cherished desire to ban and abolish nuclear weapons,” said Sunao Tsuboi, 95-year-old head of a hibakusha group who survived the U.S. atomic bombing of the western Japan city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, in the closing days of World War II.
“I want to devote my energy to encouraging nuclear states and nuclear umbrella states to join the treaty,” Tsuboi said. “Particularly, I want the Japanese government to consider its participation.”
The UN treaty will take effect 90 days after it has been ratified by at least 50 countries and regions. Honduras completed its ratification procedures on Saturday to become the 50th economy to do so.
Haruko Moritaki, 81, co-leader of the Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, said, “A path has opened to stop the destruction of humankind.”
She also pointed out that the United States and Russia remain eager to deploy small nuclear weapons, warning, “Hurdles for using such weapons appear to have been lowered.” Noting that efforts to abolish nuclear weapons have entered a crucial stage, Moritaki said, “We must tirelessly work on gaining broad support for the treaty.”
“We’ve come to this point at last,” said Koichi Kawano, 80, leader of a hibakusha group in the southwestern Japan prefecture of Nagasaki, which was also devastated by a U.S. atomic bombing in 1945. Kawano said his group wants to speak to the Japanese government and Japanese citizens about how the treaty should be observed.
Nobuto Hirano, who is in charge of the dispatch of a delegation of high school students serving as peace ambassadors, expressed regret over the fact that Japan is not among the 50 countries and regions that have ratified the U.N treaty, despite being the world’s only atomic-bombed nation. “I want the Japanese government to squarely face the treaty,” Hirano, 73, said.