By Hidehiko Yuzaki
Hiroshima stands as a powerful symbol of both the devastation of war and the potential for prosperity through peace. It stands as a remarkable recovery following the unparalleled destruction caused by the first purposeful use of an atomic bomb in human history ― a testament to the resilience of its people. Against the backdrop of Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine, some nations are heightening their reliance on nuclear deterrence, making advocating for nuclear disarmament more challenging than ever. As the G7 Summit convenes in Hiroshima this month, it presents an ideal opportunity for global leaders to reaffirm the inhumanity of nuclear weapons and the crucial need for their elimination.
To achieve this goal, we urge global leaders to visit the Peace Memorial Museum and engage in conversations with atomic bomb survivors. This will allow them to gain firsthand insight into the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons by confronting the harrowing reality of the atomic bombings. In light of the recent resurgence of nuclear deterrence, it is increasingly vital for these leaders to recognize the inherent dangers and instability of a global security system reliant on nuclear deterrence, ultimately acknowledging its unsustainability.
As we stand at a critical juncture in the Anthropocene, we must choose between self-destruction and a sustainable future characterized by peace and prosperity for all. Addressing today’s most pressing challenges, such as climate change and pandemics, requires a strong commitment to cross-border and multilateral cooperation to develop effective solutions. This also applies to the challenge of nuclear disarmament, as we urgently need a new security paradigm that ensures each nation’s safety without relying on nuclear deterrence. Now is the time to earnestly pursue the development of such a transformative system.
Guided by this vision, Hiroshima Prefecture has been committed to advancing various initiatives aimed at reframing approaches to nuclear disarmament. We believe it is crucial to view the issue of nuclear weapons through the lens of sustainability, recognizing that concerns about these weapons are just as critical as those relating to the environment, health and human rights. Together, these issues pose a common security threat to all humankind and directly impact our lives. With this understanding, we established an international civil society group in April 2022 called the Global Alliance Sustainable Peace and Prosperity for All (Gasppa). Our objective is to incorporate the elimination of nuclear weapons as a goal in the U.N.’s global agenda following the current Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Since Gasppa’s inception, we have actively sought the support of the international community in order to strengthen our collective efforts. Moving forward, we will intensify our efforts by engaging with government officials from various countries who actively participate in international negotiations. We will also collaborate with various experts in their respective fields to further advance our mission of reframing approaches to nuclear disarmament. We believe that we can gain greater consensus to pursue nuclear disarmament by framing it through the lens of sustainability.
Last month, the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting resulted in a statement where the ministers reaffirmed their commitment to a world without nuclear weapons. We have also learned that the Japanese government has initiated coordination efforts to adopt a special document focusing on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation at the upcoming G7 Summit. Our expectation for the G7 Hiroshima Summit is that it will deliver a resounding message in support of a peaceful, nuclear-free world. Furthermore, we hope this event will prompt a renewed understanding among the global community that the mere existence of nuclear weapons poses a significant risk to humanity’s sustainability and that the only surefire way to prevent their use is through their complete abolishment.
We anticipate that various shared concerns, such as environmental issues and developing a sustainable economy, will be addressed at the upcoming G7 Summit. We are hopeful that these discussions will be grounded in the understanding that world peace serves as the foundation for addressing such matters and that a truly sustainable world cannot be achieved without the elimination of nuclear weapons. We also encourage global leaders to appreciate not only Hiroshima’s historical significance but also its diverse charms and the prosperity that peace has fostered here.
Our expectation is that the G7 Summit will demonstrate the power of political will in overcoming global divisions and act as a catalyst for restoring international cooperation through dialogue and adherence to established norms, which have been compromised by the invasion of Ukraine. Furthermore, we hope that the summit will reignite concrete discussions on nuclear disarmament.
About the Author
Hidehiko Yuzaki is the governor of the Hiroshima Prefecture of Japan as well as a member of the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (APLN).
Disclaimer: The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Asia Pacific Leadership Network or any of its members. APLN’s website is a source of authoritative research and analysis and serves as a platform for debate and discussion among our senior network members, experts, and practitioners, as well as the next generation of policymakers, analysts, and advocates. Comments and responses can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image: A northwest view of the Atomic Bomb Dome and Motoyasu River, Hiroshima (Wikimedia)
This article was published in The Korea Times on 17 May 2023 as part of a dedicated, regular Korea Times column with analysis by APLN members on global issues. You can find the original post here.