12 October 2012 —
Yesterday, a delegation of 7 peace activists of The Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo) visited the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) in New York and handed over a symbolic signature of the appeal for a total ban on nuclear weapons to Ms. Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.
Their campaign to collect signatures in Japan and overseas calling for a total ban on nuclear weapons was launched in February 2011. Despite the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on 11 March 2011, the campaign went ahead across all of Japan including the earthquake-stricken areas. As of this month, more than 2.1 million signatures have been collected and include signatures by 1,055 mayors and deputy mayors and 737 chairpersons or vice-chairpersons of local assemblies in Japan.
Speaking with the delegation, High Representative Kane emphasized the vital role of civil society in promoting and achieving disarmament goals and in sustaining the political will necessary to achieve concrete progress in this field. She also thanked the Gensuikyo delegation for traveling to United Nations Headquarters each year. Gensuikyo delegations have been coming to New York to follow the First Committee debate on disarmament issues where they dialogue with delegates of Member States to promote the adoption of resolutions seeking the elimination of nuclear weapons.
During their visit with Ms. Kane, she discussed the recent launch of Hiroshima-Nagasaki Download, a multimedia website which focuses on testimonies of atomic bomb survivors who emigrated to the Americas. The website is available in all six UN official languages and is also being translated into German, Italian, Korean and Portuguese. She also informed them that two of the winners in the 13-17 age group of the UN Art for Peace Contest were both Japanese nationals and that all winning artwork will be reproduced in a United Nations calendar. The High Representative also encouraged them to visit the “World is Over-Armed and Peace is Under-Funded” display at the visitors lobby at the United Nations Headquarters.
Gensuikyo was founded in Japan on 19 September, 1955. It is a federated body of 60 national organizations, including youth, women, labor, medical institutions and others with a combined membership of 2.5 million. There are prefectural and local Gensuikyo organizations in all 47 prefectures of Japan. Gensuikyo were granted special consultative status with the Economic and Social Affairs Council (ECOSOC) in 2012.