|2013 Citizens’ Peace Declaration
August 6, 2013
“If the state harms and kills its people, it will destroy
the nation itself. A true civilization will not damage mountains and rivers,
destroy communities and will not kill people.” These are the words of
Tanaka Shozo, a grass-roots environmental protection activist and philosopher,
who tenaciously fought against copper pollution at Ashio Mine in Tochigi
prefecture more than a century ago.
Almost two and a half years have passed since the catastrophic
nuclear accident at the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant triggered by the
Great East Japan Earthquake. Although large sums of money have been spent on
decontamination work in the vicinity, radiation levels in the area have never
declined. On the contrary, a large quantity of highly radioactive water is
still leaking from the power plant, and TEPCO is incapable of controlling it.
More than 150,000 people from Fukushima are still unable to return home and so
far 1,500 people have died as a result of the stress caused by dislocation.
There is evidence that the rate of thyroid cancer among children is rising, and
the fear of radioactive contamination is deeply undermining both the physical
and psychological health of men and women of all ages. There is no doubt that
radiation is damaging mountains and rivers, destroying communities and killing
all types of living creatures. Knowing that if a major accident happened, such
irreversible, fatal damage would occur, makes the construction of a nuclear
power plant a crime against humanity as well as against all living creatures.
In this sense there is no difference between the use of nuclear energy and that
of nuclear weapons.
Yet, Prime Minister Abe continues to promote a strongly
pro-nuclear advocacy. Not only is he endeavoring to restart all Japan’s nuclear
reactors as soon as possible, but he also aims to export Japanese nuclear
reactors to overseas countries, as if no nuclear accident had ever occurred in
Japan. Inevitably, by reinforcing these nuclear policies more people will be
affected by radiation. Clearly, this is undesirable and potentially criminal
The problems associated with the current government’s
policies do not stop here however. Abe’s domestic polices, which he refers to
under the heading of “Remaking Japan Robust,” are no better. He is simply
promoting an old fashioned policy of stimulating the economy by funding large
construction projects and other policies including TPP that favor big
industries. In this way, he completely ignores environmental issues.
Simultaneously, the population is suffering from inflation, tax increases, as
well as a sharp decrease in public health funds and other social welfare funds.
Currently, 40% of the Japanese labor force, or over 20 million workers, are part-time
or casual workers, whose labor rights are not fully protected. Meanwhile, 4.8
trillion yen of tax payers’ money is being spent on the defense budget this
year, a 40 billion yen increase from last year. This budget includes an
increase of the number of Aegis ships, on the pretext of “missile defense.” In
short, the so-called Abenomics, is nothing but a series of policies that
contribute to social destruction, which may ultimately bring about our demise.
As citizens of Japan, we need to recognize that we are now standing at a
critical crossroad that may lead to the destruction of our lives.
There are many other issues at stake, too. The current
government’s policy regarding the so-called “Senkaku Island” issue is totally
dysfunctional, as it ignores the historical background, makes one-sided claims
and fails to engage in dialogue with the Chinese government. Similarly, the
government’s handling of the “comfort women” issue has been equally
incompetent. Abe has repeated an ignorant claim that there is no evidence to
prove the enforcement of sexual slavery. Unashamedly, he publicly denounced the
1993 statement by Kono Yohei, then Chief Cabinet Secretary, acknowledging the
Japanese government’s direct responsibility for this matter. The issue of
Japan’s “war of aggression” between 1931 and ’45 is also problematic. Abe has
stated that there is currently no clear definition of “war of aggression,”
implying that Japan did not invade China and other Asian nations. In contrast
to his statement, however, Japan’s “war of aggression” was clearly acknowledged
as a crime against peace at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, and since then the
legal concept of “war of aggression” has been well developed and defined by
many international law specialists. Such assertions, which clearly indicate an
ignorance of historical facts are causing friction, not only with China and
Korea, but also with the U.S. and other Western nations. It is of great concern
that this lack of information is causing Japan to lose international credibility
as a nation.
In addition, the Japanese government, always subservient to
U.S. military power, continues to eagerly agree to U.S. demands. It has
accepted the requests to relocate the U.S. base from Futenma to Henoko and to
deploy the accident-prone aircraft, Osprey, in Okinawa and Iwakuni. More
alarmingly, Abe is determined to change Japan’s peace constitution in order to
make the emperor the head of state, to build up military forces, and to deny
basic civil rights. Indeed, he appears to be setting the nation on a path
headed towards self-destruction, by changing it to a megalomaniac and
It would seem that the policies Abe is now promoting are
exactly what Tanaka Shozo warned of more than one hundred years ago, “If the state harms and kills its people,
it will destroy the nation itself.”
In order to confront such destructive government policies, it is
necessary for us to put Tanaka’s philosophy into practice in everyday life. We
must conduct our lives so as not to damage mountains and rivers, not to destroy
communities, and not to kill living creatures. In order to demonstrate our
strong will to counteract Japan’s nuclear policy, let us plan to hold the World
Radiation Victims Conference here in Hiroshima in 2015, the year of the 70th
anniversary of the Atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
(Coordinator and Author: Yuki Tanaka