Nuclear survivors call on Australia and Japan to sign treaty banning nukes

Press release - 1 February, 2018
Sydney, 5 February, 2018 – Greenpeace Australia Pacific vessels greeted Japan’s Peace Boat in Sydney Harbour this morning as it arrived to advocate for nuclear disarmament and urge the Australian and Japanese governments to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The 11-storey boat, carrying survivors of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the Fukushima nuclear disaster and descendents of Aboriginal survivors of nuclear testing, was welcomed by the Maritime Union of Australia and Uranium Free NSW as it entered Sydney harbour around 7am this morning.

“The world is closer to nuclear war today than it has been in decades. With the doomsday clock at two minutes to midnight, the Peace Boat’s survivor-led call for nuclear disarmament could not come at a more opportune time,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigner Alix Foster Vander Elst said.

“Australia needs to put the safety of its citizens and the wider world ahead of its alliances and short term political self-interest and take steps to safeguard the future by signing the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The global community has put forward a mechanism to end the scourge of these weapons - it is crucial that Australia seizes this opportunity.

“We know the immense suffering that nuclear weapons and nuclear testing has caused to the people of Australia and Japan. Both governments have similar problems. They talk about the goal of a nuclear weapon free world but they boycotted the negotiations for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Now it is time for the people of Australia and Japan to stand together to convince their governments to take the right course of action”, said Akira Kawasaki, Executive Committee Member of Peace Boat and member of the ICAN International Steering Group.

“Australia has joined the treaties banning chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster munitions. It is inevitable that Australia join the nuclear weapon ban treaty as well. We cannot sit on the fence while the nuclear threat continues to escalate; the ban treaty is the circuit-breaker we need,” said Gem Romuld, Australian Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

The Peace Boat is visiting Sydney as part of its ‘Making Waves’ tour which is exploring the devastating humanitarian consequences of the use and testing of nuclear weapons.

Japanese survivors as well as Indigenous Australian survivors of 1950s British nuclear weapons testing at Maralinga will offer public testimony and draw attention to the resistance of the Japanese and Australian governments to the new UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Karina Lester’s father, the late Yankunytjatjara elder Yami Lester, was blinded by the Emu Field nuclear tests of 1953. She will travel aboard Peace Boat to speak in cities across Australia.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to get our stories out, not only to our Australian community but also the international community. We will share and learn from one another, draw the links, and also raise awareness of the impacts of nuclear,” she said.

Photos of the Peace Boat’s arrival will be available at this link:

Video of the Peace Boat’s arrival will be available at this link: 


There will be a press conference on the Peace Boat this morning at 8.00am, however only pre-registered media will be able to board. Separate interviews are available before or after these events:


  • Rally at 12:30pm outside the Australian Government offices and the Japanese Consulate-General, 1 Bligh St, Sydney CBD. Speakers include:

    • Tanaka Terumi (Nagasaki survivor)

    • Karina Lester (Yankunytjatjara woman)

    • Tilman Ruff (founding Chair of ICAN)

    • Ray Acheson (Reaching Critical Will, New York)

    • Dominique Rowe (Greenpeace Australia Pacific)

  • Public forum and performances at 6pm at the Redfern Community Centre. Details at


Media contacts:

Martin Zavan, Greenpeace Australia Pacific Media Campaigner

0424 295 422

Gem Romuld, Australian Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

0421 955 066

Meri Joyce, Peace Boat

0491 026 507