The following is a statement that Bishop Michael Goro Matsuura, President of the Catholic Council for Justice and Peace, sent as a solidarity message to Pax Christi New Mexico’s annual action at Los Alamos this past weekend. Bishop Goro asked that we share this with all of the Pax Christi membership commemorating the anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Bishop Michael Goro MatsuuraDear sisters and brothers,

As you gather at Los Alamos today on August 6 with a firm commitment for a world without nuclear weapons, the Catholic Council for Justice and Peace of Japan would like to express our heartfelt gratitude and solidarity to each and every one of you. Gratitude because we feel deeply moved to know that there are American people who make the remembrance of Hiroshima very much present here at Los Alamos on August 6. With all the Hibakusha, survivors of the Atomic Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I say to you, “Kokoro kara arigato gozaimasu. Thank you very much from the bottom of my/our heart.” Solidarity because you have made this remembrance a firm commitment to non-violence. Your commitment for justice, peace, and integrity of creation which is translated into concrete actions to dismantle nuclear warheads and to stop the war in Iraq is truly prophetic. We, too, renew our pledge of “No more Hiroshimas” with you.

It is so very important to be together in our concrete action for peace and non-violence at this historical moment. Last year, I participated in the Pax Christi USA National Conference and invited you to join us in our action to protect and defend Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution. Article 9 of Japan’s peace constitution states:

“Land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

We firmly believe that the constitutional non-violence which Article 9 advocates should be the answer to this war-ridden world where violence is accepted as the way to achieve peace. I would like to reiterate the call to continue articulating our commitment to non- violence to the government of Prime Minister Abe. The government of Mr. Abe seeks to revise Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan in order to permit Japan to maintain de jure military forces to be dispatched anywhere in the world. The move is strongly supported by the US government to allow Japan to take a proactive military role in such US-led ventures as “the coalition of the willing” in the War on Terror. A Joint Statement of the US-Japan Security Consultative Committee issued in May 2007 confirmed that, “as both countries develop and deploy capabilities, every effort must be made to ensure tactical, operational, and strategic coordination in response to ballistic missile threats against alliance interests.”

The alliance between the US and Japan with its ongoing military setup is against Article 9 that prohibits the use of collective right of defense. Prime Minister Abe organized a committee of intellectuals to come up with a new interpretation of the said prohibition this year. The objective of this committee is to use the “new” interpretation of Article 9 so that the ongoing unconstitutional measures would be legitimized even before the constitutional revision which the government expects to take place in 2010. The members met on June 29 and reached a consensus of opinion on the interception of a ballistic missile fired at the United States. The majority of the panel members support Prime Minister Abe’s long time conviction on removing the ban of “collective self defense.” Prime Minister Abe, who is a trusted partner of Mr. Bush, is committed to revising Article 9. Already the national referendum bill was enacted to prepare the necessary steps toward the constitutional revision.

The Atomic Bomb dropped in Hiroshima on this day 62 years ago was the price paid by Japanese people to obtain Article 9. In July, Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma was made to step down from his Cabinet post over controversial remarks he made which were taken to justify the US atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The measure taken by Prime Minister Abe does not mean that he disapproves Kyuma’s remarks but he saw the need to prevent them from having an adverse impact on the upcoming election. Prime Minister Abe and seven of his ministers propose a discussion on whether Japan should possess nuclear weapons. 26% of the governing party support this move.

We are facing a dangerous time when a culture of war and violence is steadily built up, seeping into the consciousness of people and their daily lives. It forges a “common sense” and the way to look at the reality accompanied by a deep sense of fear and hatred of “the enemies.” We need to express our commitment for another world which is possible and bind ourselves together in solidarity to create a global network of peace, non-violence, and compassion that cries out: No more Hiroshima, No nuclear weapons!

From Hiroshima on August 6, united in our commitment to dismantle all the nuclear weapons.

Arigato gozaimasu.
Michael Goro Matsuura
Auxiliary bishop of Osaka Archdiocese
President, Catholic Council for Justice and Peace of Japan