Reporting the underreported threat of nuclear weapons and efforts by those striving for a nuclear free world. A project of The Non-Profit International Press Syndicate Japan and its overseas partners in partnership with Soka Gakkai International in consultative status with ECOSOC since 2009.

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Nuclear Disarmament Education: A Source of Hope


By Masako Toki

Senior Project Manager and Research Associate, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Monterey (INPS Japan) – When we look back at past year’s global peace and security environments, especially with regard to progress in nuclear disarmament, it is hard to be hopeful. Nuclear dangers are at the highest level since the end of the Cold War. Regional tensions are intensifying. However, despite being an existential threat to humanity, nuclear weapons-related issues are rarely part of general conversations, especially amongst younger generations. This situation engenders this allimportant question: How can we raise more awareness about this set of critical global challenges?

It is obvious that education is critical to resolving global problems, including nuclear issues. As late Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, astutely observed, “education is the most effective defense spending.”

Moreover, the media play a crucial role in changing the nuclear disarmament discourse by shaping public opinion, raising awareness, and holding governments and organizations accountable for their actions related to nuclear issues. This endeavor will be more effective, however, when media organizations commit to partnering with educational institutes. Effective partnerships between different stakeholders, such as academic institutes, disarmament activist groups, and the media will contribute to making progress toward nuclear disarmament.

In this context, this joint media project between SGI and INPS Japan and its likeminded media partners such as Inter Press Service and IDNInDepthNews since 2009 has been vital. This Project brings a variety of perspectives on nuclear disarmament issues to the table, raising public awareness about them.

When we raise awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons, we should not ignore the voices of youth. It is essential to engage young people through creative and innovative ideas and approaches to address such challenges. Engaging and empowering young people brings hope and positivity. In today’s challenging times, we must remain hopeful and positive when tackling one of the most critical global challenges.

Furthermore, while the global nuclear challenges are dire, there is a glimmer of hope in the sphere of multilateral diplomacy for nuclear disarmament. Since its conclusion, and subsequent entry into force, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is being joined by a growing number of states.

Additionally, the role of civil society, including youth-centered organizations, in making progress toward a world free of nuclear weapons, has become increasingly important and impactful. This is evidenced by the fact that 120 civil society organizations participated in the Second Meeting of the States Parties to the TPNW, effectively working with likeminded States Parties to produce tangible results. In particular, issues related to the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons are gaining currency, thanks to various civil society initiatives that are running with the support of likeminded national governments.

Indeed, the increasing emphasis on discussions related to humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons use was one of the highlights of the TPNW Meeting. Such discussions were enriched by including scientists from the newly-established TPNW Scientific Advisory Group, and other relevant civil society members. Simultaneously, concerted support for nuclear weapons-affected communities has become more visible and powerful.

These affected communities were marginalized for far too long. Therefore, the past year’s increasing effort to deliver nuclear justice is substantial and historic. As a result of the concerted efforts by the civil society and likeminded countries, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a Resolution entitled “Addressing the Legacy of Nuclear Weapons: Providing Victim Assistance and Environmental Remediation to States Affected by the Use or Testing of Nuclear Weapons” at the 78th UNGA session last year. This was spearheaded by the Republic of Kazakhstan and Kiribati as both countries have suffered because of numerous nuclear tests. Therefore, the adoption of this historic Resolution clearly proves that bringing human beings to the center of nuclear discussions, especially in the context of the TPNW, is becoming an absolute imperative.

So, there is hope even in the midst of an increasingly dire environment surrounding nuclear weapons. Nuclear disarmament advocates are well aware that this long journey is not easy, and the Treaty itself is just its beginning.

I would like to conclude with the words of wisdom by late SGI President, Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, to urge everyone to remain hopeful, and never give up, especially at the time when the possibility seems to be almost none.

“Today, many people have given up on the possibility of nuclear abolition. But peace is always a competition between resignation and hope. Indifference and acquiescence in the face of the negative, destructive functions of life is, ultimately, to side with the forces of destruction.”

collage of photos
collage of photos

INPS Japan

This article is the forward message for the 2024 Report on "Toward A WOrld Without Nuclear Weapons", a compilation of project articles published from April 2023 to March 2024 as part of a Joint Media Project between INPS Japan and Soka Gakkai International in consultative status with ECOSOC.
2024 Toward a world without Nuclear Weapons report.
2024 Toward a world without Nuclear Weapons report.

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