A Report by Eric Fawcett, President, S4P: I attended the 1982 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs, which is organized annually by the two major organisations for peace and disarmament, GENSUIKIN and GENSUIKYO. I am writing these notes on the peace movement in Japan since:
a) the movement has a long history, a large membership and is an important feature of Japanese life — especially the keen awareness of the plight of the HIBAKUSHA, the victims of the atom bombs (including in a wider interpretation those used in future wars), and also a strong vein of pacifism resulting from the excesses of imperialistic militarism of the 30’s and 40’s and its disastrous outcome in WWII.
b) I was almost completely ignorant about the Japanese peace movement be-fore this visit, like most Canadians, largely because of the formidable language barrier but also because our media do such a poor job of reporting even our own Canadian peace activities. I believe it is Important for us to know about the Japanese peace movement, since we can learn a great deal from the nation which has suffered the only exposure thus far to nuclear weapons; since Japan, with its powerful economy, is still basically defensive in military posture (less than 1% GNP mili:tary budget) but is now under strong pressure from the U.S.A. to change towards developing offensive capability; and since in general the peace movement needs to develop international communication.
GENSUIKIN is an anti-nuclear mass movement (its name is an abbreviation for Gensuibaku Kinshi Nihon Kokumin Kaigi = Japan Congress against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs) with branches in all 46 prefectures. It is closely associated with and funded by the Japan Socialist Party and SOHYO (the General Council of
Trade Unions of Japan). Gensuikin is firmly opposed also to civil nuclear power.
GENSUIKYO is also a large mass movement, with 200,000 members, closely associated with the Japan Communist Party. The latter party is numerically about as strong as the NDP in Canada in proportion to the total 491 represent-atives in the Diet, having about 50 representatives with about 150 for the Socialists, and 250 for the Liberal-Democrats (the ruling party) and 50 in smaller parties and independent.
Japan Scientists Association (JSA) has about 10,000 members and is affili-ated with the World Federation of Scientific Workers.
Japan Peace Research Group (JPRG) was formed in the middle 60’s about the same time as JSA and has about 50 members, mostly in the social and human sciences. JPRG publishes a journal, Peace Research in Japan.
This list gives by no means a comprehensive description of the peace movement in Japan. It includes none of the HIBAKUSHA groups — after all there are 370,000 living hibakusha in Japan today, including also Koreans and
Chinese who had been brought to Hiroshima and Nagasaki for forced labour. Nor does the list include any of the religious organisations, most of which have a strongly pacifist flavour.
I would strongly encourage any Canadian to participate if possible in the annual World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs. The last conference was very well run, with simultaneous translation into English at all the sessions in Tokyo, then Hiroshima and finally Nagasaki (I was unable to go on to there). The other foreign participants were extremely interesting and from diverse back-grounds. I benefited greatly from having Setsuko Thurlow introduce me to many of the leading Japanese participants — I believe she intends to participate in next year’s conference. I am unable to express the emotional impact of tak-ing part with 30,000 Japanese on the eve of Hiroshima day in a “die-in” — a simulated drop of an atomic bomb; of the simple ceremony culminating at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, the moment at which 100,000 people died; of meeting the hibakusha; and finally of the courage and sheer joy of 6000 young and old Japanese, at an indoor rally and concert on the last day in Hiroshima, express-ing their determination to see that there would be: “Nomor Hiroshima; Nomor Nagasaki; Nomor Hibakushal” (EF)
ISSN 1925-170X (Print) | ISSN 1925-1718 (Online)