Energy

Citizens Oppose Japan-India Nuclear Pact

Monday, October 25, 2010

Singh and Kan

PanOrient News has received the following press release from a private anti-nuclear group in Japan:

Japanese citizens expressed their opposition to nuclear cooperation between Japan and India in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Singh, which was sent today to the Indian Embassy in Tokyo. The letter was endorsed by over fifty people, including Hibakusha and other people from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and leaders of major nuclear abolition groups.

Prime Minister Singh, who is currently visiting Japan, is expected to discuss a proposed bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement when he meets Japanese Government ministers. The Japanese Government reversed a decades-old policy of not engaging in nuclear cooperation with non-NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) member states when it began negotiations with India on a bilateral agreement at the end of June this year.

The letter explains the feelings of the Hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bombings) and why there is so much opposition in Japan, in particular from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to nuclear cooperation between Japan and India. It states, "Based on the experiences of the Hibakusha we can unequivocally affirm that nuclear weapons and human beings cannot coexist."

Finally, the letter calls on India to follow the lead of Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Ghandi and stand in the forefront of moves for nuclear abolition.

Since the possibility of nuclear cooperation between Japan and India was first raised in April this year, there has been strong opposition from Japanese civil society and sections of the Japanese media.


Text of the Letter

The Hon Dr Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India

Dear Prime Minister,

We are people of Japan, including Hibakusha and other people from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the sites of the atomic bombings, who are working for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

We expect that during your visit to Japan you will discuss with Japanese Government Ministers the proposed nuclear cooperation agreement between Japan and India. Under the current circumstances, in which India has not agreed to submit all its nuclear facilities for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and has not even agreed to end production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, we strongly oppose any such nuclear cooperation agreement between our countries.

Mr Prime Minister, we wonder if you have ever visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or whether you have heard directly from Hibakusha about their experiences.

The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were small compared to most of the nuclear weapons now deployed around the world. Nevertheless, they destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in an instant. They burnt alive tens of thousands of people and contaminated the cities with radioactivity. The atomic bombs not only killed indiscriminately, but after the war was over they continued to torment and kill people exposed to the radiation. Keloids, leukemia, cataracts, cancer and all sorts of other diseases assailed the bodies of the Hibakusha. In addition, the atomic bombs cast a shadow over all aspects of the lives of the Hibakusha, creating continued suffering for them, both mental and physical: in love and in marriage, in pregnancy and in childbirth, and in their study and work.

Based on the experiences of the Hibakusha we can unequivocally affirm that nuclear weapons and human beings cannot coexist. This is the starting point for our appeal.

India has a history of striving for nuclear disarmament. From the beginning, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru strongly opposed nuclear weapons on moral, political and strategic grounds, calling their possession "a crime against humanity". Also, Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi in his address to the UN General Assembly on 8 June 1988 appealed strongly for the abolition of nuclear weapons, calling nuclear deterrence "the ultimate expression of the philosophy of terrorism".

It is true, as India has repeatedly pointed out, that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is an unequal treaty. However, looking at India now, one cannot help thinking that India believes power and prestige derive from the possession of nuclear weapons. India might have adopted a nuclear no-first-use strategy, but seen from the perspective of the experience of the Hibakusha, the possession of nuclear weapons is by no means a source of power and prestige. Rather, it is the epitome of immorality.

India reaffirmed its moratorium on nuclear testing when the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) amended its guidelines to allow a special exemption permitting nuclear cooperation with India, which is not a member of the NPT. However, India has not promised never again to conduct a nuclear test. Nor has it agreed to IAEA safeguards that would prevent it from using domestically produced material to produce nuclear weapons. Under these circumstances, given that India has not promised not to produce nuclear weapons in future, if Japan were to proceed with cooperation on nuclear technology with India, this would be interpreted by other countries, including Pakistan and other Islamic countries, as meaning that Japan, the victim of nuclear weapons, is cooperating in India's development of nuclear weapons.

This in turn would lead either to the interpretation that the damage caused by nuclear weapons is not so great after all, or that Japan places a higher priority on economic benefits than on nuclear abolition.

This is intolerable for the citizens of the country which suffered the atomic bombings, who for all these years have been appealing for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

In view of these circumstances, we believe you will understand why there is so much opposition in Japan, in particular from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to nuclear cooperation between Japan and India.

Based on the above comments, if India wishes to conclude a nuclear cooperation agreement with Japan, it must at the very least cease production of nuclear material for weapons, including from domestic sources, put all its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, and, following the lead of Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi, stand in the forefront of moves for nuclear abolition.


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