Marking the 75th anniversary of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US military, His Holiness the Dalai Lama published an open letter on Thursday calling on governments, organizations, and individuals to end the threat of nuclear weapons and to dedicate themselves to bringing about peace in an increasingly polarized yet interdependent world.
“Despite many great developments that also took place, the 20th century was an era of violence in which some 200 million people were killed, including the horrific use of nuclear weapons,” His Holiness stated. “Now, in our increasingly interdependent world, we have a chance to make this a more peaceful century.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
“When conflicts arise they should be settled through dialogue, not the use of force. We need to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons, with the ultimate aim of a demilitarized world,” the Dalai Lama said in his heartfelt appeal. “War means killing. Violence leads to counter violence. We need to put an end to combat and the production of weapons and construct a more peaceful world.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
Memorial ceremonies and services were held around the world on Thursday to remember those who lost their lives in the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima at 8:15am on Monday, 6 August 1945, which incinerated the city. Three days later a second nuclear bomb was detonated over Nagasaki. The two atomic blasts resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 people, mostly civilians.
“We human beings have created many of the problems in today’s world,” the Dalai Lama concluded. “As long as we have strong negative emotions and we view our fellow beings in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’, there will be a tendency to try to destroy them. We must recognize the oneness of humanity, and understand that we will not achieve peace merely through prayer; we need to take action.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
The Japanese Nichiren Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai International (SGI) also released an official statement on Thursday, in which Yoshiki Tanigawa, chair of the Soka Gakkai Council on Peace Issues, reaffirmed the lay Buddhist association’s commitment to work toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons and the early entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
Signatures and ratification of the TPNW are required from at least 50 countries to bring the treaty into effect. As of August 2020, 43 states have so far ratified the treaty to prohibit the development, testing, use, and threat of use of nuclear weapons. None of the world’s nuclear powers have so far ratified the treaty.
“Our world today is wracked by extreme tensions. In recent years, there are signs that a nuclear arms race among the nuclear-weapon states is again intensifying. At the same time, the global spread of the novel coronavirus has demonstrated that military force is incapable of resolving global challenges, compelling us to confront the question of what constitutes authentic security for human beings. Faced with these threats, it is clear that humankind stands at a crossroads regarding securing our right to life,” Soka Gakkai said in its statement. “The teachings of Buddhism express the confidence that, ‘When great evil occurs, great good follows.’ With each individual envisioning a future world free from nuclear weapons, we must make the current crisis a turning point, transforming division into unity as we advance toward the realization of that vision.” (Soka Gakkai International)
According to estimates from the non-profit organization and journal Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, there are some 13,355 nuclear weapons in the world (excluding decommissioned warheads), of which 91 per cent belong to Russia (6,370) and the USA (5,800). France and the UK both have significant stockpiles, estimated at 300 and 215, respectively, as do Pakistan with 150 and India with 130. China is estimated to have an arsenal of some 290 warheads, while Israel is believed to possess around 80 warheads, and North Korea an estimated 20–30 warheads.
Statement on the 75th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
Statement on the 75th Anniversary of the Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Soka Gakkai International)
How the world’s nuclear stockpiles have shifted since Hiroshima (Axios)