Contribution to GTI Roundtable How to Ban the Bomb

Hiroo Saionji

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)’s 2017 Nobel Peace Prize was uplifting and encouraging news not only for those who have been striving for nuclear abolition, but also for all of us working for world peace in different ways. At the UN, the desperate cries of hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were heard, and many years of efforts made by civil society organizations in this field bore fruit when the treaty banning nuclear weapons was adopted with the endorsement of 122 countries.

It was, however, very disappointing that Japan, who should be spearheading such efforts as the only nation to have suffered atomic bombing, decided not to ratify the treaty in consideration of its relations with the United States. As a Japanese national, I find this position hard to accept, and I feel apologetic toward those fighting for nuclear abolition.

I therefore cannot agree more with Krieger that we should not leave the task of nuclear abolition to nation-states alone. It requires collective global action, which ultimately begins with the shift of consciousness of individuals. Changing each individual’s consciousness is the starting point to changing the entire world.

As an example of social reformation through the change of people’s consciousness and behavior, I often talk about the anti-smoking campaign in the US. Even after the American Medical Association announced that smoking can cause lung cancer, the government did nothing, and the tobacco industry tried to hide this information. However, as the consciousness of the dangers of smoking gradually increased among the general masses, San Francisco adopted an anti-smoking ordinance, then the state of California did, and finally, anti-smoking legislation was enacted on Capitol Hill.

This is an example where ordinary citizens moved an entire nation and its communities. Other examples of this can be seen in the fall of the Berlin Wall, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and the abolition of Apartheid in South Africa. At the root of each of these large changes were changes in people’s consciousness and behavior. Therefore, a change in people’s consciousness is also the prerequisite for the realization of a world without war and nuclear weapons. The issue is how we can increase the number of people who have such consciousness.

I think it is vital for us to share with as many people as possible―among others, with young people and children who are going to shoulder the Earth’s future―the fundamental facts and important information, and to awaken them to such awareness as:

  • The historic and tragic devastation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki;
  • The fact that the use of nuclear weapons will lead to the extinction of humanity;
  • The fact that war and armament do not solve problems;
  • That, in the present global world, there cannot be peace, security, and profit for one nation alone
  • How wasteful and negative the annual $1.7 trillion on military spending in the world is from a macro or global viewpoint, and how many problems will be solved by reallocating it to humanity’s welfare and other positive purposes.

It is my firm belief that moral and spiritual awareness―what may be called the “divine spark”―resides in the heart and mind of every individual. To awaken this divine spark in the spirit of humanity and to foster a culture of oneness, we initiated the Fuji Declaration in 2015 with over 60 partner organizations and 200 founding signatories, including Krieger as well as other prominent scientists, artists, authors, teachers, and world peace advocates the world over. It is an international alliance of individuals and organizations that are united by a shared commitment to live and collaborate toward the advancement of a more harmonious and flourishing world.

It is our hope that initiatives and movements like this would contribute to creating the critical mass of awakened consciousness needed to change the course of humanity toward a new civilization free of nuclear weapons, ensuring the well-being of all forms of life on this precious planet.

Hiroo Saionji
Hiroo Saionji is the president of the Goi Peace Foundation, which is dedicated to fostering a sustainable and harmonious global society, and the president of the World Peace Prayer Society.

Cite as Hiroo Saionji, contribution to GTI Roundtable "How to Ban the Bomb," Great Transition Initiative (August 2018),

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