The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Process: Drawing a Road Map to the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

By Kodama, Katsuya | Social Alternatives, First Quarter 2010 | Go to article overview

The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Process: Drawing a Road Map to the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons


Kodama, Katsuya, Social Alternatives


This article reviews the framework of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Process towards the abolition of nuclear weapons. It shows how there has been a trend toward increased participation of civil society in the historical record of moves towards the abolition of nuclear weapons. This is a welcome development in the face of inaction by governments over recent decades. However support for the abolition of nuclear weapons by Barak Obama has revived international political trends in support for a world free of these most destructive weapons. Given the experience of the cities that experienced nuclear bombs, it is appropriate that the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Process is leading the way towards the achievement of the dream of a world without nuclear weapons.

The Time is Coming for the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

The two atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 killed almost a quarter of a million people and afflicted many more over the following decades . The subsequent Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union caused the nuclear arms race and produced nuclear weapons capable of exterminating humanity several times over. In spite of the slender hope of abolition of nuclear weapons at the end of the Cold War, conflicts still continue around the world, and nuclear weapons have spread to India, Pakistan and North Korea. The dream of eliminating nuclear weapons has grown more distant.

Recently, however, here have been some reassuring developments for world peace. The Mine Ban Treaty was concluded by the efforts of NGOs and the so-called 'middle-power countries'. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) was established and pursued as a worldwide campaign. The Ottawa landmine conference was held in 1996 in Ottawa, Canada and, subsequently, the clauses for the Mine Ban Treaty were drafted at the meeting held in Oslo in September 1997. The treaty was signed in December of that year, and entered into force in 1999.

Then, the Cluster Bomb Ban Treaty was achieved through a similar process. Many buried unexploded cluster munitions inflict serious injuries on ordinary civilians, so people might go so far as to call them 'devil weapons'. An international conference concerning the banning of cluster bombs was held in February 2007 and the Oslo Declaration was adopted by 46 countries. In addition to the NGOs, the International Red Cross and the middlepower countries also participated in the Oslo Process.

If the military superpowers, including the United States and Russia, seize the initiative of disarmament, it becomes almost impossible to open a path to peace and disarmament. In the Ottawa Process and the Oslo Process, middle-power countries and NGOs played a key role in accomplishing international treaties by outnumbering the military superpowers. The times have significantly changed - from disarmament negotiations led by military superpowers to a disarmament process setting led by global citizens.

Various tendencies can be seen regarding nuclear disarmament, too. It is striking that people considered as pragmatists, including former US officials such as Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State George Schultz, former Defense Secretary William J. Perry, and former Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sam Nunn all began to advocate the necessity for the total abolition of nuclear weapons ' In short, nuclear weapons and humans cannot co-exist, either from the perspective of pragmatism or of idealism.

The most significant event that shows America's change of attitude toward nuclear weapons is the beginning of the Obama administration. President Obama delivered a speech in Prague in April of 2009 in which he expressed the goal of total abolition of nuclear weapons as follows: 'So today, I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.' Although the specific process until this statement becomes reality is unclear, it is crucially important that the U.

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