US President Barack Obama visited Hiroshima this week, just after the G7 Summit. This was the first ever visit by a US President in office. However, whilst Greenpeace Japan welcomed President Obama’s visit but they also say it was marred by double standards over nuclear weapons.
Hisayo Takada, Deputy Program Director at Greenpeace Japan said: “We welcome President Obama’s attempt to understand the miseries of nuclear warfare, but this visit rings hollow without far bolder efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. If the U.S. wants to help build a peaceful world, it is not enough to only visit the ruins of the past.
“The U.S. administration recently sent to Congress a budget that would invest nearly US$1 trillion in updating and expanding U.S. nuclear weapons capacities, while also cutting funding for non-proliferation efforts. This is wholly unacceptable for a Nobel Peace laureate.”
The U.S. must also address the issue of its military base in Okinawa, which is an ongoing problem with local people, particularly when military personnel are involved in serious crimes.
Hisayo Takada added: “The military base in Henoko is a relic of past conflicts and its expansion ignores the wishes of 80% of local people. It threatens people’s local environment, including the home of 262 rare species such as the endangered Japanese dugong.
“Building a new air base in Okinawa is not the way to ensure a peaceful future in East Asia. The governments of the U.S. and Japan need to listen to the voices of the Okinawan people to find solutions for long term peace. The plan for a new base should be cancelled.”
The U.S. still has 4,700 operational nuclear warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists, and continues to spend a fortune maintaining and modernising its arsenal. The U.S. is not the only one – over 40 years after the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, nuclear-armed states are still clinging to their arsenals.
Greenpeace believes that the battle to stop the spread of nuclear weapons – the first campaign Greenpeace ever engaged in – is as urgent as ever and that we cannot rest until we eliminate nuclear weapons from the world.