NDE Waging Peace Against
Nukes at Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Japan
The 66th anniversary of the bombings
of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, August 6th & 9th,
2011, provided an emotionally charged backdrop for
the World Conference Against A&H Bombs from August
2-10, 2011. Nevada Desert Experience (NDE) was privileged
to have two international delegates present in the
week-long international forum, Jim Haber, NDE Coordinator,
and Mary Lou Anderson, NDE member and volunteer.
Haber and Anderson are available for talks
to classes, community groups, in person, or on radio
or television, to share their experiences, answer some
questions, and raise others with audiences. Contact
them through the NDE
office to discuss possible presentations.
Jim Haber's earlier words, in the international
NDE Statement by he and Anderson, “We're Allies
representing Allies”, eloquently expresses
the relationship building and alliances formed at this
amazing gathering of global peace-makers, dignitaries,
constituents and 'real' voices of the people of Japan.
The conference, hosted by Japan
of international governments, inter-governmental organizations
and national and local peace movement representatives
from the United Nations (UN), Japan, Embassy of Cuba
in Japan, Embassy of Egypt in Japan, Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, Malaysia, Government of Mexico, Embassy of Norway
in Japan, Venezuelan Ambassador to Japan, League of Arab
States, Australia, Tahiti, Marshall Islands, Guam, Palau,
The Philippines, Vietnam, Republic of Korea, Peoples
Republic of China, India, Nepal, Russia, Lithuania, Norway,
Germany, Italy, France, United Kingdom and the United
States. Eighty-seven international delegates took part
in the Conference (7 USA) along with approximately 9,000
participants throughout the week, in both Hiroshima and
A poignant and sobering opening to the
Conference in Hiroshima on the 3rd was delivered by
Sergio de Queiroz Duarte, High Representative for Disarmament
Affairs for the UN. Duarte, a long time proponent of
nuclear disarmament and renegade governmental (peace)
activist himself presented UN Secretary General Ban
Ki Moon's message to the general assembly of the World
Conference. Moon expressed his solidarity with the
World Conference delegates and urged all to continue
to collect signatures on petitions for disarmament,
publish documents and commentary, speak up loudly and
publicly and hold rallies--to engage the public and
educate them as to the value of participating in the
anti-nuclear movement, against the deadliness of nuclear
weapons. He expressed his gratefulness for the delegation
support of both his efforts and those of the UN, and
emphasized that, “Together you are
the collective conscience of humanity, and a powerful
voice for public accountability in fulfilling official
August 2nd marked the dedication of flowers
by conference delegates at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial
Museum as well as a day to reflect at the Museum and
grounds in preparation for conference opening ceremonies.
The Opening session on August 3rd was inspiring; delegates
from across the globe gave opening remarks and statements,
as did various government representatives, the Mayor
of Hiroshima, and most impressive, Kodama Michiko,
Secretary General of the Japan Confederation of A&H
Bomb Suffers Organizations. Both morning and afternoon
plenary sessions accommodated talks by numerous Peace
Organization delegates, sharing their missions of driving
the abolition of nuclear weapons in their respective
countries. Nevada Desert Experience was afforded the
chance to share our statement of intent in participating
in the conference; Jim Haber shared our goals along
with current Nevada efforts in organizing interfaith
resistance to nuclear weapons. The crowded audience
was enormously interested in the state of testing in
Nevada and NDE's efforts in driving public awareness
of the severity of testing and ongoing expansion of
nuclear weapon facilities.
Haber was selected as moderator for two
future sessions. Read excerpts from his talks below.
A brief visit was made to the Hiroshima
Red Cross A Bomb Hospital which provides services to
any hibakasha individual along with their family members.
Staggering statistics were shared with the group regarding
real numbers of people over the past 66 years who have
passed through their doors seeking treatment for bomb-related
disease, of which cancer, leukemia and heart disease
ranked highest, for both first and second generation
Hiroshima International sessions encompassed
numerous talks by delegates sharing their organizations'
tactics for nuclear disarmament activism, as well as
work on nuclear energy awareness and the eventual elimination
of nuclear energy plants in their respective countries.
Similar themes abounded throughout the world – peace
walks, vigils, signature campaigns, engaging youth,
participation in local events, media engagement (as
possible), and now, special attention to nuclear power,
August 6th marked the 66th anniversary
of the bombing of Hiroshima. Delegates embarked upon
Hiroshima Peace Park for the early morning ceremonies,
followed by an afternoon filled with rallies, speeches
by hibakusha, government representatives and many delegates.
Brief stops were made in the streets of Hiroshima as
demonstrations abounded against nuclear energy and nuclear
weapons, by budding young, and seasoned peace activist
groups. A beautiful presentation was given by numerous
groups of Japanese youth, calling for a total ban of
nuclear weapons. The day's events were concluded in the
evening at the Peace Park with the annual Hiroshima lantern
floating ceremony: wondrous, meaningful, somber.
The Hiroshima portion of the conference
concluded week-one and NDE was present at the closing
ceremony panelist table.
See excerpts below of
our statements regarding weapons testing, missile testing,
launches, US Military monies budgeted towards ongoing
stockpiling, weapons' enhancements and our efforts and
goals in making our voices heard.
The primary goal of the Hiroshima portion
of the conference was to draft a conference document
declaration to present to all delegates at the close
of the conference which will ultimately be presented
to the United Nations.
The World Conference moved to Nagasaki
on August 7th with a moving opening session, addressed
by the Mayor of Nagasaki City and many hibakusha and
peace organization representatives. Japanese groups
presented talks on grass-root nuclear weapon disarmament
and nuclear energy abolition; truly inspiring work
being done by the real victims, families of Hiroshima,
Nagasaki and now, Fukushima. Multiple workshops were
offered on Tuesday: Haber moderated the “Building up grass roots movements” session
with over 100 attendees throughout the day. Many local
individuals shared their work and visions for peace,
solidarity, nuclear abolition. Many hibakusha spoke
regarding their experiences and life after 66 years.
See more regarding pleas from Fukushima
victims, families, peace organizations, below.
August 9th marked the 66th anniversary
of the bombing of Nagasaki. A moment of silence was observed
in the massive opening session, at 11:02 a.m., in memory
of victims lost and forever affected by this atrocious
attack against humanity. The proposed declaration for
a total ban and elimination of nuclear weapons was presented
to the delegation with the adoption of the general conference
statement. The proposed declaration will be presented
to the United Nations in late 2011.
The closing ceremony in Nagasaki was moving,
meaningful, and beautiful with many youth peace groups
marching across the stage, banners in hand, singing,
praying for peace in solidarity with the world.
“We Shall Overcome” chanted
loudly by thousands of peace-makers echoed the desire
for world peace throughout the halls of the Nagasaki
Shimin Kaikan auditorium. Nevada Desert Experience
was moved and proud to be part of this strong, passionate
international family as we sang and marched in unison
with the world, with memories never to be forgotten
and a new found determination to continue the work
of our NDE predecessors using non-violence solutions
for nuclear abolition and an end to all wars.
Read the statement Jim & MaryLou
NDE Speaks to Nuclear Abolition Activism
Nevada Desert Experience enjoyed two separate occasions
while in Hiroshima, to present overviews of local and
national activism about our work about Nevada National
Security Site (NNSS) activity (in particular, sub-critical
nuclear tests that Japanese activists find particularly
alarming), against drones, and general issues faced by
the anti-war peace movement in the United States. Haber
spoke to a full delegation on August 4th and August 5th.
Excerpts from the forums follow below.
Haber thanked Gensuikyo for the NDE Invitation to
the conference and gave regards and thanks to our NDE
Board of Directors as well as the Mayors for Peace
for continually supporting the national nuclear abolition
efforts across the US. “Being in Japan at this time is a teachable
moment because of the Fukushima (radiation) incident.
Let's talk a bit about the core of this conference – nuclear
weapons stockpiling and threats and now nuclear energy.
We as activist, peace-leaders have historical knowledge,
experience – Chernobyl, 3 Mile Island, let's talk
about our message to take home. There are many formats
to reach the people, and the 'right' people. Ironically,
e-letters have very positive results compared to when
they first started being used; technology has vastly
improved, to our advantage! I'm inspired by the ability
in Japan to get so many people to sign a paper petition.
Communicating with our local, national representatives
is vital, with real numbers behind our messages. They
'still' don't hear us! We attend meetings with politicians
who don't even take notes! We have to be strong, consistent
with our approach to education and – let's not
let related issues be ignored either. Weapon delivery
systems – missile development and testing. The
United States tests missiles every few months, we can't
ignore anti-ballistic missile activity, which is truly
offensive and not defensive in nature, as we develop
our campaigns. It is essential to connect the many issues.
People today are concerned about the environment, social
services funding (cuts), humanitarian programs – we
'must' take up their issues so they will listen and
believe in our own anti-war sincerity! We need to consider
all approaches. During this conference I propose we
do more than merely present our thoughts proposed on
paper; we must build a (global) collective plan.”
“I'm in agreement with developing an international
declaration for the United Nations urging the complete
abolition of nuclear weapons. I'd like to share a few
points as they directly relate to Nevada. Sub critical
testing in Nevada; people need to understand our concern.
This testing, which continues, is part of the much
larger problem. “Stockpile stewardship”, “life
extension” programs and other modernization schemes
are very real and ongoing. These US Government terms
making a lie out of its calls for nuclear disarmament,
as these efforts continue and $185 billion of federal
money is pledged to them in the midst of the US Economy
collapse! There's no justification! Also, we don't
need to test missiles. In the end of July there was
another ICBM missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force
Base. In 40 years of tests, this was the only ICBM
test to fail. They're offensive in nature, yet when
Iran or North Korea tests more primitive, shorter range
missiles, the US Government makes vitriolic condemnations.
Hypocrites need to be called out. Thank you Japan for
calling us out. Also, we need to call out the United
States for development of anti-ballistic missiles.
People in this room understand, we need to connect
this message to people in our own countries to challenge
the US! They are developing new, smaller nuclear weapons
and say they don't count as new weapons. If a person
makes a baby, we say it is a new generation. I n a
sick way, this is also true for bombs. This is a dangerous
new generation of nuclear weapon advancement. $185
billion dollars has been budgeted in the United States
for new, improved weapons! We can't let this continue.
Further, the funding for dismantling nuclear weapons
in the United States is being cut. The NNSS (formerly
Nevada Test Site) does not perform full scale testing
but still conducts different tests and is diversifying
its mission. It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what's
happening at the NNSS due to the strong level of secrecy
of the government. And of course we know, whistle blowers
are not protected so our information is often a little
“Nevada Activities – We struggle to get
media attention; it's very difficult. We attempt to
keep our messages of peace, disarmament, anti-war very
simple. We continue to try to increase our sphere of
influence in the world and say no to federal monies
to war! Peace begins at home everyone, we in Nevada
continue to educate, hold vigils, demonstrate, walk
for peace, drive signature campaigns, all in solidarity
with the goals of this memorial conference.”
Fukushima, Japan Survivors, Peace-Makers Speak Up
The World Conference in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki was blessed with many local Fukushima peace-organizations and concerned citizens and families. For the first time, the Gensuikyo event focused heavily on nuclear energy, it's dangers and risks, in light of the recent Fukushima incident. Participants such as Sato Hachiro, Village Assembly Member, Itate Village, Fukushima along with delegates from Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima delivered pleas and appeals to the delegation, for support and understanding of the critical needs of their people and their environment in the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdowns and radiation exposure.
Families in Fukushima are in fear for their children; actual radiation levels are not being reported to the general population. Divorce rates have spiked as mothers and children are moving away for fear of radiation poisoning as husbands and fathers remain back, continuing to work to support their families. Foodborne radiation appears to be spreading quite rapidly, while the government remains in discussions as to whether completely shut the reactors down. Communities are frightened and under-informed. Peace activist groups are distributing questionnaires asking citizens to voice their opinions. Students are fleeing Fukushima as well. In the meantime various relief centers have been setup to respond to the peoples' needs. Activist organizations are demanding radiation counters be installed, and also are demanding immediate clean-up of the reactor sites and affected areas. Fukushima School Board of Directors have ceased recruiting teachers, as so many families have fled; the schools are now suffering as well.
A Fukushima Nuclear Physicist stated, “...my connection to this conference is my belief that people can bring about change! All of us together are a large force and we're holding this conference at a time when radiation is spreading throughout Japan! Authorities have told us and continue to tell us that Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Arms are two different things – not so! Signatures on petitions demanding answers and a ban of nuclear energy are so powerful! The enemy (government!) becomes frustrated when we petition them; that's good for us, we need to frustrate them as much as possible!”
Spending time with citizens of Fukushima was enlightening, humbling, and educational. The level of fear, uncertainty, and anger continues to increase within their communities while governmental and media entities continue to downplay the severity of radioactivity. Another earthquake (amidst daily aftershocks) measuring 5.4, hit Fukoshima Friday morning, August 12th and could be felt in Tokyo.
Peace be with the people of Fukushima, peace be with the peace makers and activists of Japan. As an international group driving nuclear abolition, we will continue to keep the people of Fukushima in the forefront of our minds and actions, to stop the madness and set the land and people free.