Mothers deepen conviction that world is moving towards abolition of nuclear weapons

The following is a reprint from Akahata, translated and reprinted by Japan Press, .

About 17,500 mothers assembled in Kyoto City last month to take part in the 55th Japan Mothers’ Congress, a major annual forum devoted to discussing ways to ensure peace for children.

Protests against the U.S. hydrogen bomb test explosion at Bikini Atoll in 1954 developed into a Japanese mothers’ movement calling for the protection of children from the danger of possible nuclear war.

In June 1955, the first Japan Mothers’ Congress was held and has since been held annually under the slogan, “Mothers as mothers want to cultivate and protect life.”

The Mothers’ Congress movement has gained impetus after President Barack Obama’s speech in April declaring that a world without nuclear weapons is a national goal of the United States.

This year’s Congress was held as grassroots efforts to collect signatures for a world free of nuclear weapons are increasing throughout the country aiming toward the NPT Review Conference in May 2010.

Arima Raitei, chair of the Board of Directors of the Kyoto Buddhist Organization, was the main speaker at the plenary session on the first day.

“Unnecessary in the world is nuclear weapons. Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution is our treasure. This must be taught to children by mothers,” Raitei said.

Appearing on the stage, mothers spoke about their various experiences including struggles against corporate arbitrary dismissals of temporary workers and movements for the total ban of nuclear weapons.

A participant, who is demanding that Oita Canon Inc. withdraw its unfair dismissals, said, “By reading a flier distributed at the gate of the plant, became aware of the labor union and joined it with my colleagues. If I had been alone, I would have given up fighting against the unfair treatment of workers. I gained a lot of knowledge after joining the union. I can tell my children that I’m fighting back.”

A representative of the New Women’s Association of Japan (Shinfujin) reported that Shinfujin members around the country are sending a-bomb photo panels to sister cities of their local governments, calling on them to participate in a signature collection campaign calling for a world without nuclear weapons. She said Shinfujin local offices received positive responses from German and Korean local governments expressing support for the signature campaign.

On the second day of the Congress, workshops and a symposium covering 43 themes, including women’s rights and the peace movement, were held at various locations in Kyoto City.

At an international symposium entitled, “Towards the 2010 NPT Review Conference,’ participants exchanged views about the situation after the Obama speech calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and came to the conclusion, “Now is the chance to totally eliminate nuclear weapons. Let’s increase efforts to collect signatures for a world without nuclear weapons.”