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Japan and the Bomb: a History of the Japanese Anti-Nuclear Movement



Jacqueline Cabasso, the Western States Legal Foundation

Date and Time

March 14, 2006 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


Philippines Conference Room

The Japanese anti-nuclear movement has been characterized by the same kinds of political divisions as other popular movements, while it also reflects some uniquely Japanese features. Today, with the risk of use of nuclear weapons climbing towards levels not reached since the darkest days of the Cold War, the Japanese movement, led by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the aging "Hibakusha" (survivors), plays a key role in the global nuclear abolition movement, serving as its conscience and its inspiration. At the same time it is confronting new challenges at home. The Japanese government maintains an ambivalent relationship with nuclear weapons. While it rhetorically calls for global nuclear disarmament in the United Nations, it remains firmly situated under the U.S. "nuclear umbrella." Meanwhile, the U.S. is refurbishing and upgrading its still vast nuclear arsenal, and expanding the role of nuclear weapons in its national security policy. With an enormous civilian nuclear power program, and huge stocks of plutonium, Japan has the capacity to produce its own nuclear weapons, should it decide to do so - a fact that does not go unnoticed by its neighbors in the region, China, and the Koreas.

Japan's three nonnuclear principles of not possessing, not producing, and not allowing nuclear arms on its soil, and Article 9 of its 1946 post-war constitution, which renounces war and prohibits maintenance of armed forces, are under serious attack. In 2004, Japan, one of the U.S.'s closest allies, deployed 1000 members of its "Self Defense Forces" to Iraq - the first time Japanese troops have been sent into combat zone since World War II. According to some estimates, Japan is second only to the U.S. in its military spending.

On the 60th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of their cities, the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki declared August 6, 2005 until August 9, 2006 to be an international Year of Inheritance, Awakening, and Commitment.

Jacqueline Cabasso has served as Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF) in Oakland, California since 1984. Founded two years earlier, the nonprofit WSLF seeks to abolish nuclear weapons as an essential step in making possible a more secure, just, and environmentally sustainable world. Since 1994, Ms. Cabasso has participated as an accredited non-governmental organization representative in 12 negotiating and review sessions of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In 1995, she co-founded the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, which has grown to include more than 2000 organizations in over 90 countries, and she continues to serve on its international Coordinating Committee. Ms. Cabasso chairs the Coordinating Committee of the multi-issue Peoples NonViolent Response Coalition, located in the Bay Area, and formed in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks.