[Declaration] 2015 International Conference for Peace in East Asia ‘No Wars, No Nukes’
2015 East Asia Peace Declaration
The year 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the world’s liberation from the military aggression and colonialism of Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. The 2015 also marks the 70th year since the horrors of the atomic bomb inflicted devastation on humanity for the first time.
Although East Asia endured continuous warfare and the Cold War tensions over the past seven decades, East Asia as a region went through a most dramatic transformation and achieved unprecedented development and prosperity in history. In spite of these accomplishments, however, potentials and possibilities of East Asia now face critical challenges—an ongoing war in the Cold War standoff, and reinforced arms race. In particular, unsolved North Korea’s nuclear problems not only destabilize the Korean armistice, but accelerate the regional nuclear and conventional arms race. Furthermore, despite the fact that Japan was the principal aggressor in East Asia throughout the early 20thcentury, its recent attempts to reemerge as a military power without making clear amends to the past, further destabilizing East Asia’s volatile peace. As Japan attempts to revise its Peace Constitution that has been the cornerstone for peace in the postwar East Asia, we cannot help but be concerned.
Increasingly fractious hegemonic competition in the East Asia–Pacific region today are also worsening wounds of the past. If we continue to resort to militarism and nationalism without a reliable regional peace mechanism that can resolve such sensitive regional issues in a nonviolent and mutually-beneficial manner, East Asia may degenerate from its mutual prosperity into a melee for hegemony. We must learn from our past—two World Wars stemmed from our inability to control such hegemonic rivalry.
Furthermore, the East Asia–Pacific region has directly suffered from massive casualties incurred by a series of nuclear catastrophes: atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nuclear tests conducted in places such as the Bikini Atoll, and the recent Fukushima nuclear disaster. As demonstrated by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster caused by an earthquake along Japan’s east coast, nuclear catastrophes do not exclusively result from the weapons of foreign countries, but can be triggered by nuclear facilities any country in the region. Forging a world without nuclear weapons, that is, building a world free of nuclear threats, has become the earnest desire and sincere hope of all East Asians. As is clear from the seriousness of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, nuclear power is the energy of the past and therefore, each country should suggest a goal to create a nuclear phase-out society.
East Asia has become a tangled intersection of superpowers and home to a fierce arms race, making it one of the world’s most volatile regions. It is also the region most vulnerable to potential human and ecological disasters inflicted by nuclear weapons and accidents. Europe has been the center of the global movement to create, maintain and consolidate peace in the post-World War II era, and it is now East Asia’s turn to do the same. In this vein, to forge a lasting peace in East Asia and contribute to peace for all humanity, we of this conference declare the following.
Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution is the Cornerstone for Peace in East Asia
Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution is the cornerstone for peace in East Asia and a failsafe that prevents us from repeating past mistakes. We believe the biggest contribution Japan can make to regional peace and prosperity is to adhere to its commitment to global peace as stated in its constitution and flourish as an exemplar for peaceful development. For a long time, a number of Japanese intellectuals strived to uphold the peace provision outlined in the Japanese Constitution. Civil society organizations across Japan and East Asia proposed and supported the movement to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the Japanese Peace Constitution. This movement also has received international attention and support. Along with those who represent Japan’s voice of conscience, we solemnly state Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution must be upheld as an expression of humanity’s noblest goal—world peace. Nuclear threats and ecological crisis threats future of human beings. Now, it is time to expand our international peace movement to reflect universal pacifism which is stipulated in the Japanese Peace Constitution to other countries’ constitutions.
Peace in East Asia Cannot be achieved without Ending the Korean War
The existing armistice and division of the Korean Peninsula are the unfortunate outcome of the World War II and the Cold War. The armistice system of the Korean peninsula not only caused pains of the Koreans but also is a fundamental cause of unstable peace in the region. The divided Korean peninsula is the world’s most heavily militarized zone and the powder keg in East Asia where the world’s largest military exercises are conducted. North Korea’s recent nuclear developments have exacerbated vicious cycle of an arms race in and surrounding of the Korean peninsula. The Korean War needs to end for peace in the Korean peninsula and East Asia. The four key parties—the United States, China, North and South Korea—must immediately convene a peace talk to replace the current armistice treaty with a peace treaty. The recent normalization of the U.S.-Cuba relations can serve as a benchmark for the future normalization of the U.S.–North Korea relations.
Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and ‘Nuclear Safety’ will create a Nuclear-Free World
North Korea’s development and sophistication of its nuclear weapons programs can no longer be ignored. The Six-Party Talks, which aim to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and establish peace, must be resumed at the earliest possible time. To this end, the threshold for resuming dialogue and negotiation must be lowered. To weaken North Korea’s motives to develop its nuclear weapons and to minimize the threat of another Korean conflict, the United States, South Korea, and Japan, that enjoy asymmetric military advantages over North Korea, should take the initiative in relieving tensions in Korea. First and foremost, transforming the unstable armistice system into a peace system, normalizing the US-North Korea, Japan-North Korea relations, denuclearizing the Korean peninsula and negative security assurance on North Korea should be discussed with a bolder and more comprehensive approach. To expedite this process, the contribution of the United State is crucial in normalizing its relations with North Korea and signing the Peace Treaty to denuclearize North Korea and reduce arms in both countries. In response, both North and South Korea must abide by the promises made in the 1992 Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
To be truly free from all nuclear threats, it is also imperative to respond and provide alternative measures for the threats posed by the “peaceful” use of nuclear energy. Establishing joint safety measures for nuclear power plants in Japan, China, and North and South Korea—in operation, under construction, and scheduled for construction—has become a pressing matter. Full cooperation among concerned countries is one of the most urgent tasks.
The Roles of Women and Civil Societies should be emphasized for Peace and Cooperation
We cannot blame governments only for all the threats to peace in East Asia. Political parties, legislatures, and civil societies too are responsible and should work together to influence public opinion and advise the governments to make laws and policies that promote peace. For a harmonious and sustainable future, we must strive to bolster and facilitate understanding and cooperation between people beyond our borders, and build solidarity for peace and justice, so that we do not repeat the unfortunate history of our past. In particular, as rightfully advised by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, the importance of expanding the role and participation of women in redefining security and establishing a lasting peace should be emphasized.
Solidarity for peace towards a new East Asia has already begun to form. Until this solidarity becomes an ‘East Asian Peace Community of Nations’, let us never stop our march for peace.
13 August 2015
Participants, 2015 International Conference for Peace in East Asia
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