4 August 2010

In Remarks at Waseda University, Secretary-General Urges Young Japanese to Become ‘Leaders for Disarmament’, Keep Memory of Hiroshima, Nagasaki Alive

4 August 2010
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

In Remarks at Waseda University, Secretary-General Urges Young Japanese to Become


‘Leaders for Disarmament’, Keep Memory of Hiroshima, Nagasaki Alive


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at a dialogue with Waseda University students, in Tokyo, 4 August:

Minasan, konnichi wa!  O-genki desu ka?

Thank you for that kind introduction, and thank you all for coming today — particularly during your summer break.

It is a special pleasure to speak at Waseda University, which has such a long and rich history.

You have provided your country with six Prime Ministers already.  Perhaps a seventh is in the audience.

I made a special request to speak at Waseda.  Whenever I travel, I like to meet university students.  And I know Waseda is famous for its creativity… its innovative thinking.

Many Japanese universities are setting up campuses abroad and starting foreign exchange programmes.  You admitted your first foreign students more than 100 years ago.

In globalization, as in so many other areas, Waseda leads from the front.

I am pleased to welcome students from Meiji University and Chuo University, and members of the Model UN Society and the UN Association.  Thank you for your support.

In the past few months, I have met students in Istanbul… in Los Angeles… in Moscow… in Tashkent… and now in Tokyo.

It is, perhaps, not surprising that young people around the world share many of the same goals.

A safer, more peaceful world.

A greener, more sustainable world.

A world in which everyone has enough to eat.

A world free from the nuclear threat.

This is not an impossible dream.  This is what the United Nations works for every day.

Japan has always played an important part in this work.

Madame Ogata and Ambassador Yasushi Akashi are just two of the many Japanese staff who have shown their dedication to the UN.

I hope some of you will follow in their footsteps.

The United Nations needs the unique qualities, the energy and creativity, of Japan’s young people.

From the Kyoto Protocol… to this year’s Conference on Biological Diversity in Nagoya… Japan is in the forefront on sustainability and the environment.

Japanese people donate more to the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, than the citizens of any other country.

Your Government gave great support to Haiti earlier this year, when the earthquake struck.  You sent money… and you also sent hundreds of engineers to serve with our UN Mission, MINUSTAH.

You are putting billions of dollars into Afghanistan.

Thank you for these tangible expressions of global solidarity, where it is most needed.

Japan is a key pillar of our peacebuilding work, helping countries to overcome the trauma of war.

You have led our work on human security.  This approach is becoming increasingly important as we face multiple, linked threats… from financial instability to climate change.

We are expanding our idea of security to accommodate all the factors that affect people’s survival, livelihoods and dignity.  I thank Japan for its engagement and look forward to further progress.

Japan’s role in UN peacekeeping missions is under review.  We welcome Japan’s increased participation, here and in every area of our work.

Japanese development aid is generous, timely and welcome.

I would ask your Government leaders, despite the economic challenges brought on by the global economic downturn, to continue your commitment to developing countries.  That is what the international community expects from a major economy such as Japan.

Let me tell you something about how this money is spent.

Countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone in West Africa are recovering from war, and have far too many guns in circulation.  Japan pays for a gun control programme in the region.

Your money is helping to raise public awareness… to draft new laws… and to help these countries become safer.

Tajikistan, a very poor country in Central Asia, is prone to earthquakes, floods and avalanches.  Japanese money is helping to build new hospitals and train doctors in emergency care.  They will be able to keep working, even if a natural disaster strikes.

Today, Japan’s development aid is more important than ever.

This is especially true as we approach the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — the targets agreed by the world’s countries in 2000, to reduce poverty and improve the health and education of the world’s poorest people by 2015.

We are making progress.  But much, much more needs to be done.  Next month, I am convening an MDG Summit to mobilize the world for a big push over the next five years.

We can meet the Goals.  We can eliminate the worst poverty and deprivation.

We are counting on your support.

In all these areas, Japan is an irreplaceable partner of the United Nations.

But in the area of nuclear disarmament, you have a special and unique role.

I have come to Japan to commemorate the terrible events of 1945 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki… and to join my voice with all those who say “never again”.

One of my earliest memories is leaving my village as it came under fire during the Korean War.  We fled to the mountains, where we set up our home.

It may be difficult for young people to imagine the horror… the chaos… the misery of war.

I am glad that you have never had such experiences.  I wish nobody did.

But you, like everyone in this region, know all about the nuclear threat.

I have been trying to end that threat for many years… since long before I became UN Secretary-General.

Some people argue that disarmament is too difficult… that it is an unrealistic goal… that it can never be achieved, at least in our lifetimes.

I am here to say that is not true.

Yes, it is difficult.  But it is not impossible.

In October 2008, I proposed a five-point plan on disarmament.  It includes recommendations on increasing security, on verification, on establishing a legal framework for nuclear disarmament, on transparency and on conventional weapons.

Since then, we have seen some progress.

The Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty concluded successfully in May.

The Security Council held a historic meeting on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation last year.  Russia and the United States concluded a new START [Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms] agreement.  We made important progress at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.

With these building blocks, we are inching closer to a world free of nuclear weapons.  As I see it, my job is to push the pace.

That is why, in September, I will convene a conference on disarmament in New York.

I will push for negotiations towards nuclear disarmament.

A Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

A Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.

The nuclear attacks at Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed how deadly these weapons are.  They leave scars lasting for generations.

Clearly, a nuclear war would be catastrophic for all humankind.

That is why international legal opinion is clear: civilian populations are protected by principles of law, humanity and public conscience.

The possession of nuclear weapons by some encourages their acquisition by others.  This leads to nuclear proliferation and the spread of the contagious doctrine of nuclear deterrence.

Here, in North-East Asia, we understand these dangers well.

The UN is very concerned about the situation on the Korean peninsula.  We hope to see the resumption of the six-party talks as soon as possible.

And we hope to see a world free of the nuclear threat in our lifetime.

This is my message here today, and throughout my visit to Japan:

Disarmament must be an essential part of international peace and security.

Disarmament is a practical necessity for a safer world for all.

I hope that you, the younger generation of Japanese, will carry the torch that your parents and grandparents have lit.

Become leaders for disarmament.

Tell the stories of the survivors of the nuclear bombs, the hibakusha.  Their testimony is the most graphic argument against the nuclear threat.

The world needs you — Japan’s young people — to keep the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki alive.

And to keep the promise of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

I count on you to widen your scope.

Your generation needs to see beyond national territory.  The international community is looking to you for your leadership and for your vision.

Thank you.

Domo, arigato gozaimashita.

Korekara mo, issho ni ganbarimasho.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.