Archbishop of Nagasaki endorses call of religious leaders and legislators for a nuclear-weapon-free world

As the anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki approaches, Archbishop Mitsuaki Takami endorses 'A Nuclear-Weapon-Free World: Our Common Good'.

Nagasaki Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, who as an unborn child survived the Aug. 9, 1945, atomic bomb that decimated his city, last week endorsed 'A Nuclear-Weapon-Free World: Our Common Good', a joint statement of mayors, religious leaders and parliamentarians which calls for the global prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.

In particular, the statement calls 'upon world leaders to commit to nuclear abolition and to replace nuclear deterrence with shared security approaches to conflicts,' and urges 'states to advance a nuclear weapons convention or framework of agreements that eliminate nuclear weapons.'

Archbishop Takami, who was born seven months after the nuclear bomb was detonated in his city, lost a number of relatives to the bomb, including his grandmother, two aunts and an uncle.

He has called the existence of nuclear weapons "intrinsically evil" and that "there is no reason whatsoever to justify this deadly weapon... Any use of nuclear weapons brings about catastrophic humanitarian consequences, and is against our religious values, moral principles. … Therefore, nuclear weapons abolition is a spiritual imperative.”

In an article published in the Japan Times on 15 July 2017, Archbishop Takami acknowledges that Japan relies on nuclear deterrence due, primarily, to threats from China and North Korea. However, he believes that the risks of such policy are unacceptable, and that there is a better alternative than nuclear deterrence to addressing these threats, and that is to establish a North East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (NE Asia NWFZ).

A detailed outline for such a zone, entitled the 3+3 NE Asia NWFZ proposal, has been developed by Dr Hiromichi Umebayashi in conjunction with Peace Depot (Japan) and the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition at Nagasaki University (RECNA).

Already the proposal has cross-party support from parliamentarians in Japan and South Korea, interest and engagement from North Korean parliamentary delegations, and support from major civil society organizations, a range of academics and policy analysts, 545 Japanese heads of cities and 126 religious leaders.

Archbishop Takami, who also serves as President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, joins many other notable Japanese and international endorsers of the joint statement including: Taro Kono MP, Japan's new Foreign Minister; Katsua Okada MP, former Japan Foreign Minister; Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima; Tomihisa Taue, Mayor of Nagasaki; Rev. Keiji Kunitomi, Secretary General of Religions for Peace Japan; Ichiro Aisawa MPFormer Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs; Kuniko Inoguchi MP, former President of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva; Christine Muttonen MP, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe; Saber Chowdhury MP, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union; Holger Nielsen MP, former Foreign Minister of Denmark; Paul Quiles, former Defence Minister of France; Mary Anne Plaatjies van Huffel, President, World Council of Churches Africa; Dr. Tariq Ramadan, President of the European Muslim Network; Marie Dennis, Co-President Pax Christi International, and hundreds more...

The statement was presented to the UN Open Ended Working Group on Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations in February 2016, and to the UN Conference to Negotiate the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in June 2017.

Endorsements are now being gathered in preparation for it to be presented to the 2018 UN High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament to encourage concrete action by governments at the conference.

For further reports about the statement see: