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Hibakusha presents 9.41 million signatures to UN demanding nuke ban treaty enforcement

Preparatory Committee Chair Syed Mohamad Hasrin Aidid, left, is seen receiving the petition for the abolition of nuclear weapons from Sueichi Kido, center, secretary-general of the Japan Confederation of A-and H-bomb Sufferers Organization, at United Nations headquarters in New York, on May 1, 2019. (Mainichi/Toshiyuki Sumi)

NEW YORK -- Japanese representatives of atomic bomb victims have handed the United Nations an international petition with 9.41 million signatures calling for early enforcement of the 2017 nuclear weapons ban treaty.

The call to implement the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was carried to U.N. headquarters here by Japan Confederation of A-and H-bomb Sufferers Organization Secretary-General Sueichi Kido, a survivor of the 1945 Nagasaki atomic bombing, and others. They presented the document at the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to figures including its chair, Syed Mohamad Hasrin Aidid, and Izumi Nakamitsu, U.N. under-secretary-general and high representative for disarmament affairs.

Amid calls from hibakusha, people affected by the 1945 atomic bombings, in and out of Japan, the petition amassed an additional 1.11 million signatures since its last submission to the U.N. in fall 2018. Kido said to Syed, "Nuclear disarmament is an irreversible international trend. The rise in global conflict and tension is not a justification to oppose abolition; it is a reason to support it."

The preparatory committee session will continue until May 10. Review conferences for the NPT are held every five years to examine the treaty's status. The 2015 conference ended without resolving disagreements between nuclear and non-nuclear states. The current session aims to prepare for next year's negotiations, but with issues including the United States' intention to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), the nuclear abolition movement is facing an uphill battle.

Hibakusha, including Jiro Hamasumi, 73, in utero during the blast in Hiroshima, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations, gave their opinions to the preparatory committee on May 1.

(Japanese original by Toshiyuki Sumi, New York Bureau)

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