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Nagasaki Embarks on a New Journey toward a Future Free from Nuclear Weapons

On November 16–18, the SGI/ICAN exhibition Everything You Treasure—For a World Free From Nuclear Weapons (EYT) was shown at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. The exhibition was held as a side event at the Sixth Nagasaki Global Citizens’ Assembly for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons in Nagasaki.

The opening ceremony was attended by Dr. Masao Tomonaga, chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Nagasaki Global Citizens’ Assembly for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, Ms. Angela Kane, former high representative of the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Masako Toki, research associate and project manager at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and Mr. Kazuo Ishiwatari, SGI’s executive director of Peace and Global Issues.

In his speech at the ceremony, Dr. Tomonaga said that the main thrust of the Nagasaki Assembly is to display the people power as symbolized by the signing of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and that the EYT exhibition is an effective educational tool that can help deepen the public’s understanding of nuclear weapons. Ms. Kane emphasized that disarmament requires people to be aware of the reality of the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons and expressed her appreciation for SGI’s efforts to promote such awareness in Japan and other countries.

The Sixth Nagasaki Global Citizens’ Assembly for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons was held for the first time in five years since 2013, hosted and organized by a committee consisting of local NGOs as well as Nagasaki City and the Nagasaki Prefectural Government. The assembly was attended by 3,600 people including citizens, academics, journalists and NGO representatives from Japan and overseas.

In a workshop held under the theme of “Progress in Peace Talks and the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula—the Future of Northeast Asia without Nuclear Weapons,” Dr. Suzuki Tatsujiro, director of the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition at Nagasaki University (RECNA), said that the 2018 North Korea-United States summit had defused tensions in the region and had created a chance to work toward “the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” He further stated that Japan should take the lead in establishing a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (NEA-NWFZ) which could serve as an important stepping stone for Japan to join the TPNW.

In a workshop titled "Building a World without Nuclear Weapons with Future Generations," students, researchers and citizens gathered to discuss how younger people take forward the legacy of the hibakusha (victims of nuclear weapons and testing), and how peace initiatives could be pursued in the future to realize a world without nuclear weapons. In the workshop, the results of a survey on young people's attitudes toward nuclear weapons, carried out by the Youth Union for Peace, were presented to the participants. A total of 1,187 responses were collected between October and November 2018 and showed that while 79 percent of respondents had a moderate to strong interest in the issue of nuclear weapons, only 20 percent of respondents had had experiences of participating in antinuclear events and activities. Most of the respondents attributed their low interest in participation to their lack of knowledge about the nuclear weapons issue, or to the difficulty of finding a connection between the issue and their own lives. At the workshop, the Youth Union for Peace announced the launch of a new initiative, "Youth Network for Peace," which would create a common platform for younger people and youth groups to work together for nuclear abolition.

The 2018 Nagasaki Appeal which reflected the discussions and findings of the conference was adopted at the closing plenary. The appeal highlighted the importance of reducing and eliminating the role of nuclear weapons in all states. The appeal also called on all states to join the TPNW and urged the Japanese government to sign the treaty and promote a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone.

Prior to the assembly, the third meeting of the Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament (EPG) was held in Nagasaki on November 14 and 15, 2018. The EPG members discussed issues about the relationship between security and disarmament, including the "hard questions", at the meeting. On November 15, the EPG members held a meeting with representatives of Japanese NGOs to exchange their views on nuclear disarmament. Kimiaki Kawai, director of the Soka Gakkai Peace Committee, attended the meeting and stated that while the report issued by the EPG in March acknowledged that nuclear deterrence is "a dangerous long-term basis for global security," it does in fact pose an imminent danger for humanity as well and asked EPG members to seriously consider this point as they engaged in further discussions in the future.

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