February 26, 2010
To the President of the United States, the Japanese government and leaders of other countries,
An Appeal from the Bishops of Nuclear Bombsites, Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Take A Courageous Step Toward
The Total Abolition Of Nuclear Weapons
We, as the bishops of the Catholic Church of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki in Japan, which is the only country in the world to have suffered
nuclear attacks, demand that the President of the United States, the
Japanese government and the leaders of other countries make utmost efforts
to abolish nuclear weapons, while we share the intention of our Pope, the
supreme leader of the Catholic Church.
The nuclear weapons deprived over one hundred thousand people’s
lives in an instant at the end of the previous world war. And the bomb
survivors continue to suffer physically and spiritually even now. Since the
test of a thermonuclear bomb with the kill rate several thousand times as
deadly as a nuclear bomb, these formidable nuclear bombs have been
produced massively in various forms after being improved for actual warfare.
How sad and foolish it is to abuse the progress that humanity has made in
the fields of science and technology, in order to destroy lives as massively and
swiftly as possible, and to earn more profit by producing weapons! A clear
example of such foolishness appeared in a condensed manner in the atomic
bombings. However, the responsibility of the sin should be born not only by
the United States which actually dropped the atomic bombs, but also the
other countries including Japan which have kept on waging wars throughout
their history. In this sense, while reflecting on our past conduct, we wish to
advance together toward the common aims for the future, which are the
abolition of nuclear weapons and the realization of a world without wars.
Currently there are over 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world.
Under such circumstance, in addition to holding up an ideal to realize a
world free of nuclear weapons, it is essential that we reduce such weapons
practically. That is because the abolition of these weapons will never be
achieved without accumulating such efforts. In the Nuclear Security Summit
in April and the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
(NPT) in May, we sincerely hope that the world leaders will reach an
agreement to take a secure step toward the abolition of nuclear weapons,
beyond their own interests.
To the President of the United States of America:
We request you to make a courageous decision and take initiative
this March in the US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the guideline for the
U.S. nuclear policy. That is to say, we would like to ask you to settle on the “Sole Purpose”, which is to limit the purpose of retaining nuclear weapons to
deterring others from using such weapons only, at least as a first step toward
the elimination of nuclear weapons. If this decision is made, nuclear
weapons will be reduced accordingly, and the NPT will be greatly influenced.
To the Japanese government:
As many people have already indicated, although such argument to
limit the role of nuclear weapons arose in the United States, the Japanese
government seems to have an extremely passive attitude to the nuclear arms
reduction policies, not to mention the abolition of such arms. That is because
the Japanese government has adhered to the security policy under the U.S.
nuclear umbrella. However, Foreign Minister Okada clearly said on January
29 in his speech about fundamental diplomatic policy that he would pay
attention to and support the “Sole Purpose” of the United States as a first
step toward the total abolition of nuclear weapons. Although this can be
evaluated as a certain progress, this statement only expresses that Japan
supports the nuclear arms reduction policies of the United States. It is
needless to say that Japan should demonstrate and implement what Japan
itself will do toward the total abolition of nuclear weapons.
To the world leaders:
It is clear that the goal to abolish nuclear weapons is the challenge
of all countries regardless of whether each country possesses nuclear
weapons or not. A huge amount of expense is needed to produce and
maintain nuclear weapons. Although the nuclear deterrence is a first step
toward the abolition of nuclear weapons, it will not be able to bring about
true peace because it will merely escalate the causes of wars. If a country or
group somewhere uses these weapons, its impact will affect the whole earth.
What everyone desires is not to live in the world full of struggles surrounded
by weapons, but to realize a world where everyone can live a humane life
filled with love and trust while cooperating with each other. Humanity can
wage wars, but at the same time it can also make the choice not to, and is
expected to play a role in this decision. All of you who have been elected as
the leader of your country are in the position capable of making great
contributions to peace.
We request you once again to take a courageous step toward the
total abolition of nuclear weapons and the realization of a world without
Archbishop Mitsuaki Takami, Nagasaki Archidiocese of the Catholic Church
Bishop Atsumi Misue, Hiroshima Diocese of the Catholic Church