SPEECH BY MIZUHO FUKUSHIMA, LEADER OF THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF JAPAN
Ladies and gentlemen, I am very grateful to have this opportunity to speak to you all at this the 23rd Congress of the Socialist International.
As Japan's representative in Socialist International, the Social Democratic Party is working to protect the livelihoods of ordinary people and to secure and develop peace in Japan and Northeast Asia.
Today, I would like to address three topics. The first of these is peace. In World War II, Japan invaded China and other countries on the Asian continent and experienced the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan's reflections on its conduct during the war led to the establishment of Article 9 of Japan's constitution, under which Japan renounces war. Japan has applied these principles of peace for 63 years since World War II, during which time Japan's Self Defense Forces have not killed citizens of other countries nor has Japan exported weapons to other countries.
In 2001, the Social Democratic Party proposed a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone and a Northeast Asia security organization to the leaders of China, South Korea and Mongolia and received a favorable response. Resolutions in support of these proposals have also been passed several times by the Socialist International Asia-Pacific Committee.
The proposal to establish a Northeast Asia security organization was also included in a resolution passed by the six-nation talks which began in 2003.
I humbly ask, as an expression of solidarity, that this meeting of Socialist International also pass a resolution to support the proposals for the Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone and a Northeast Asia security organization.
Let me say some more about the issues surrounding Article 9 of the Japanese constitution. Despite Article 9, Japan's Self Defense Forces have been dispatched to Iraq. The government is currently stepping up efforts to enact a permanent law authorizing the dispatch of Self-Defense Forces troops overseas. Such a law would trample over the spirit of Article 9. It would also be one further step towards the abandonment of Article 9 itself which would turn Japan into a country that is once again constitutionally able to wage war.
The Social Democratic Party opposes these developments. I humbly ask that this meeting of Socialist International also pass a resolution in support of Article 9 of Japan's constitution.
The second topic I would like to address is the issue of human rights. Japan retains the death penalty. Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama has already signed 13 execution orders in just nine months. Executions in Japan are increasing.
There have been numerous other recent human rights violations. The movie "Yasukuni", which focuses on the Yasukuni shrine where Japan's war dead are venerated as gods, was forced to cancel screenings. A teacher's union was also forced to cancel its annual conference after a hotel and conference center withdrew permission for them to use its facilities. Civil servants have been arrested for distributing political leaflets. Members of the NGO Greenpeace recently discovered that despite the Japanese government's claim to be engaged in scientific whaling, whale meat was being distributed free to crew members and their families. Greenpeace took a cardboard box full of whale meat and presented it to the authorities as evidence and called for the prosecution of crew members for embezzlement. Instead however, the Greenpeace activists were arrested for theft of the cardboard box.
Currently in Japan, freedom of thought and conscience, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are under threat. This is truly a crisis of human rights and democracy. The Social Democratic Party is fighting to stop these violations. I would like to ask for your interest, support and co-operation.
Finally, I would like to talk about energy and the environment. Japan frequently experiences earthquakes. Despite this, there are 52 nuclear power stations operating in the country. We are concerned whether these nuclear power stations are sufficiently resistant to earthquakes. The Japanese government is also determined to start the full-scale operation of a nuclear reprocessing plant that would result in the massive stockpiling of plutonium. We are deeply concerned over the safety of the reprocessing and over why the Japanese government intends to stockpile large quantities of plutonium. We oppose the promotion of nuclear power stations as a means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The Social Democratic Party is committed to the promotion of natural energy sources.
In solidarity with all the member parties of Socialist International who are working to make the world a fairer and more equitable place, the Social Democratic Party is fighting to uphold these noble principles. We must work to create a society based on inclusion rather than exclusion. The Social Democratic Party is also determined to fulfill its role in preventing Japan from becoming a major military power.
That concludes my statement of solidarity with you all. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.