Humanizing Religion, Creating Peace
Peace Proposal 2008

Excerpt: "Creating the Infrastructures of Peace"

At the height of Cold War tensions, seeking to reduce these tensions and prevent further escalation of the arms race, I called for summit meetings between the leaders of the superpowers and engaged in citizen diplomacy to encourage dialogue and exchange. At a time when, in addition to the U.S.-Soviet confrontation, tensions between China and the Soviet Union were at a critical level (1974–75), I traveled to all three countries in a private capacity, meeting, among others, with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai (1898–1976), Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin (1904–80) and U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Through such efforts, I hoped to build bridges that would lead to improved relations.

In this I was driven by the determination to prevent at all costs full-scale nuclear warfare, which would have catastrophic effects for the entire human race, and to put an end to the wars that were dividing the world and inflicting massive suffering upon people. With the end of the Cold War, while the threat of full-scale nuclear warfare has receded, we now face new and emerging dangers in the form of nuclear proliferation.

In my 2007 peace proposal, I called for a transition to a system of security that is not reliant on nuclear weapons, and to this end urged the establishment of an international nuclear disarmament agency to ensure the good-faith fulfillment of existing legal commitments to nuclear disarmament.

Equally essential to nuclear abolition is establishing consensus within the international community regarding the fundamental illegality of nuclear weapons. As one element of this, I would like to focus on the call issued in August 2007 by the Canadian Pugwash Group for the establishment of an Arctic Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (NWFZ). The SGI, as an advocate of a nuclear-weapon-free world, lends support to this call, in the spirit of Josei Toda's 1957 declaration calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The Arctic Ocean occupied a position of strategic geopolitical importance during the Cold War with nuclear-powered submarines of the Eastern and Western blocs traveling under the icecap carrying their ominous cargo of ballistic missiles. If, as a result of global warming, the polar icecap recedes or even disappears during the summer months, this could open the way for an increased militarization of the Arctic region. It could also spark an international scramble to develop transportation, seabed and other resources, causing a clash of interests between the concerned countries. For this reason, there is an urgent need to prohibit military activity in the region, build a legal regime to conserve it as a common heritage of humankind, and establish an Arctic Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.

The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 banned all military activity on the world's southernmost continent, specifically outlawing nuclear explosions and disposal of radioactive waste south of 60 degrees south latitude. Since then, a total of five regional treaties prohibiting the development, manufacture, possession, transportation, receipt, testing and use of nuclear weapons have been signed, and NWFZs have expanded to include Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Africa and Central Asia.

The NWFZs, covering most of the landmass of the southern hemisphere, serve as a curb against nuclear proliferation in the respective regions. Furthermore, they help strengthen momentum toward the outlawing of nuclear weapons. Together with Mongolia, which declared its nuclear-weapon-free status in 2000, well over 100 countries—more than half the governments on Earth—have become signatories to these agreements, thus expressing their view that the development and use of nuclear weapons is or should be illegal under international law.

I would hope to see further moves toward the creation of other NWFZs, as this will solidify the trend toward making the illegality of nuclear weapons the shared norm of humankind, leading ultimately to an international treaty for the comprehensive prohibition of nuclear weapons, banning their development, acquisition, possession and use.

As a step toward this, I would like to call for the establishment of a treaty prohibiting military use of and denuclearizing the Arctic region under the aegis of the United Nations. In this endeavor Japan, as a country that directly experienced the horrors of nuclear war and which upholds as core national policy the three nonnuclear principles of not possessing, developing or allowing nuclear weapons onto its national territory, should take the initiative, working with other states and civil society partners seeking a nuclear-free world.

I believe that a similar approach would be effective in terms of nuclear nonproliferation in Northeast Asia. All efforts should continue through the Six-Party Talks toward the complete dismantling of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. At the same time, Japan should reaffirm its uncompromising commitment to its own nonnuclear policies, and should deploy its full diplomatic resources toward the more encompassing goal of establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone covering the whole of Northeast Asia.

The mobilization of international public opinion is indispensable to any attempt to reduce and eventually outlaw nuclear weapons. With this in mind, I proposed a decade of action by the world's people for nuclear abolition in a proposal for UN reform which I authored in August 2006, to help focus grassroots energies to make the necessary breakthrough.

Last year, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Josei Toda's declaration calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, the SGI launched the international exhibition "From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit." This was a concrete initiative to promote nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation education as advocated by the United Nations. Since the 1980s, the SGI has organized a series of exhibitions to raise public awareness of the perils of nuclear weapons, cooperating in this with the United Nations and various civil society partners. We are determined to continue these activities, working with the Pugwash Conferences and other partners that share the goal of building grassroots consensus for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons. We regard such efforts as an integral aspect of our mission as Buddhists to promote respect for the sanctity of life.

My next proposal toward building the infrastructures of peace is to call for the early signing of a treaty banning so-called "cluster bombs." These weapons spread numerous submunitions over a wide area. They indiscriminately kill and maim people in the target area, and the bomblets that remain unexploded put lives at risk for years after a conflict has ended, causing serious hindrance to reconstruction.

As many as 440 million submunitions have already been used in 24 countries and territories, killing and injuring an estimated 100,000 people. Some 73 countries still continue to stockpile cluster bombs.

The Cluster Munition Coalition, a network of civil society organizations calling for the conclusion of an international treaty banning the use, production and stockpiling of cluster munitions, was formed in 2003. The movement has gained momentum, and in February 2007 a conference attended by more than forty governments and representatives of civil society was held in Oslo, Norway, to frame a new treaty to ban cluster munitions. From this conference, an initiative called the Oslo Process was launched, which, like the Ottawa Process that produced the 1997 treaty banning land mines, brings NGOs and interested states together in shared action.

Discussions are under way within the framework of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) to address the issue of cluster bombs, but they have as yet failed to make any significant progress. Thus, while it is of course desirable that as many states as possible eventually become parties, priority must be placed on getting a treaty signed and in place by the end of this year as called for in the Oslo Process. And just as the Ottawa Treaty has over the past decade attained the weight of an international humanitarian norm that discourages even nonsignatory states from using land mines, a similar consensus must be built in global society against cluster bombs.

The success of such efforts with strong civil society support will have a definite and positive impact on momentum toward disarmament in other fields.

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