ACTION ALERT: International Petition Against
Use of Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine War
On March 2, 2022, Tadatoshi Akiba, the Mayor of Hiroshima and President of Mayors for Peace from 1999 to 2011, launched a petition on the Change.org website addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and entitled: “Do NOT use nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict – Message from Japan.” [See the petition below — EAW]
The central concern was that nuclear weapons should not be used again. As the Hibakusha (survivors of the US nuclear attack on Hiroshima) have declared, “No one should ever have to suffer as we have.” They describe the experience of being under the nuclear mushroom cloud as “Hell on Earth.”
The petition calls on “President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders to immediately declare the disuse of nuclear weapons in this conflict.” It also calls on the nuclear-armed countries to adopt no-first use policies to prevent nuclear war anywhere in the world, to be followed by the relinquishing of nuclear deterrence policies themselves in order to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.
In the petition, former Mayor Akiba asks the Japan Prime Minister to convey the experience and message of Hibakusha to Russia and other members of the UN Security Council in order to ensure they understand what it means to use a nuclear weapon.
“Japan’s current Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, who was elected from Hiroshima is in the position to speak for the Hibakusha,” says the appeal. “Now is the time for PM Kishida to take a stand and attend the United Nations Security Council meeting and tell the reality of the atomic bombing, and convey the cry of the many Hibakusha who died, repeating in their death beds “No one else should go through our suffering.”
Mayor Akiba was motivated to launch the petition when he saw and shared the intense distress of Hibakusha following President Putin’s threat — which was sandwiched between two nuclear exercises — to “anyone who would consider interfering from the outside: if you do, you will face consequences greater than any of you have faced in history.”
Within days, NoFirstUse Global brought this signature drive to the attention of its participating organizations and its newsletter subscribers, and followed up with a blog article NoFirstUse Global interviews Mayor Akiba on his appeal: Do NOT use nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict.
Change.org decided to feature the petition prominently, and the number of signatories mounted quickly.
After three weeks over 90,000 people had endorsed. Mayor Akiba appealed, through change.org, to the petition’s many signatories to help push it over the line to 100,000. Change.org also asked for donations to promote the petition. Some 8,500 people responded to this appeal using social media to reach out to potential signatories and/or making donations to help the promotion.
Within days of this follow-up appeal, the 100,000 mark was reached. Signatures continue to pour in. Readers who have not yet signed are urged to do so, and those who have signed, or now do, are requested to use their social media platforms to promote the petition further.
As described in his NoFirstUse Global interview, Mayor Akiba is now sending the petition to President Putin, all the other nuclear-armed states’ leaders, and the Prime Minister of Japan, Kishida. This is crucial, since most of the other nuclear powers, as well as the NATO alliance, maintain nuclear-use policies that include options to initiate nuclear warfare; India and China being the exceptions.
The petition calls for the renunciation by all of such options and the adoption of no-first-use pledges.
In the interview, Akiba argues that once the nuclear powers have taken this relatively easy step, the final step to establishing a nuclear-weapon-free world will be attainable. NoFirstUse Global will report on responses Mayor Akiba receives and further developments.
ACTION: Do NOT Use Nuclear Weapons!
(March 1, 2022) — As a former mayor of Hiroshima, Japan, I call for President Vladimir Putin and the world leaders to immediately declare the disuse of nuclear weapons in this conflict!
I also call for Prime Minister Kishida, who is from Hiroshima, to take a stand and attend the United Nations Security Council meeting to convey the cry of the Hibakusha! [Note: The Hibakusha are the survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.]
I am Tadatoshi Akiba, former mayor of Hiroshima. Hibakusha and citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki know the misery and inhumanity of the atomic bombs from our own experience. That is why we have been urging that nuclear weapons must not be used against human beings, let alone be even used on earth for any reason.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comments on the current global crisis have caused a great stir. On February 24, he signaled the potential use of nuclear weapons, stating:
“To anyone who would consider interfering from the outside: if you do, you will face consequences greater than any of you have faced in history.”
On February 27, the situation escalated even more. He ordered the defense minister and the head of the Russian military to put its deterrence forces, including nuclear forces, on “special alert“ missions against Ukraine and NATO.
In this “unlikely” event that President Putin uses a nuclear weapon, the resulting “living hell” would likely be witnessed by all the people in the world through internet and international broadcasts.
It would mean that billions of people would have to continuously witness the living hell that was experienced by the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 77 years ago, on screens for a long time. If you have any imagination left, think about what the world will look like, what people will witness, and how people will be narrating the historical tragedy out of your action.
The screaming and shouting of people suffering in agony and dying will be recorded and edited, and will forever be remembered as what “President Putin” did, and what “Russia” did.
The “consequences greater than any you have faced in history”, as threatened by President Putin, means that President Putin and the Russian Federation could be remembered as those despised, disliked, and unwelcomed by the world for all time to come.
Those of us who know what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki do not want Russia as a nation to be seen as such, but more importantly, we urge with all of our voices that not a single person must suffer the same tragedy as the survivors of atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Moreover, Russia is not the only country that deserves criticism. British Prime Minister Theresa May stated in Parliament in 2016 that she would authorize the nuclear strikes if necessary. The three countries with nuclear powers, the United States, Britain, and France expressed their willingness in the use of nuclear weapons (whilst China has declared a no-first-use policy of nuclear weapons.)
When asked by George Kerevan, a member of the Scottish National Party, “Are you prepared to authorize a nuclear strike that could kill hundreds of thousands of men, women and children?” British PM May said “Yes” without hesitation.
Nuclear Power states seem so “positive” about the use of nuclear weapons, which undoubtedly is because the leaders of these countries are absolutely ignorant of the consequences a single nuclear weapon could have.
Hibakusha and citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki know the misery and inhumanity of the atomic bombs from our own experiences. That is why they, and we, have been strongly urging the disuse of nuclear weapons for the sake of human beings, and of this plant, in any circumstances.
I ask President Putin and the world leaders to immediately declare the non-use of all nuclear weapons in this conflict and ensure to fulfill the most fundamental responsibility as a member of the human race. This is the responsibility of all the countries with nuclear weapons, not just Russia.
I am also asking you to abandon the concept of “nuclear deterrence.” The first step might be to adopt a no-first-use policy of nuclear weapons, as China has done.
Even though voices as far away from Japan may not reach the people of the Nuclear Powers, Japan’s current Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, who was elected from Hiroshima is in the position to speak for the Hibakusha.
Now is the time for PM Kishida to take a stand and attend the United Nations Security Council meeting and tell the reality of the atomic bombing, and convey the cry of the many Hibakusha who died, repeating in their death beds “No one else should go through our suffer.”
PM Kishida’s wise decision-making is awaited as well as the leaders of the states with nuclear weapons, especially President Vladimir Putin.
Threatening to use nuclear weapons is a clear violation of international law. In 1996, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion stating that: It follows from the above-mentioned requirements that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law;
However, in view of the current state of international law, and of the elements of fact at its disposal, the Court cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defense, in which the very survival of a State would be at stake
It is obvious to everyone that the situation of Russia does not apply to the “extreme situation of self-defense” as an exception, so there is no doubt that it is a “violation of the international law”.
Furthermore, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which fills in the gaps in the ICJ’s advisory opinions and has the force of international law, prohibits “threatening to use nuclear weapons”.
Furthermore, in the “Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races” of January 3, the five countries, including the Russian Federation, went to the trouble of affirming that “none of our nuclear weapons are targeted at each other or at any other State.” President Putin and Russia must keep their word.