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Majority of NZ Youth Reject Nuclear Weapons

Majority of New Zealand Youth Surveyed Totally Reject Nuclear Weapons

More then two thirds of New Zealand youth reject the use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances, according to the recent nationwide survey.

A slight majority also believe that the New Zealand government is not doing enough to abolish nuclear weapons.

The New Zealand survey was part of an international poll on youth attitudes towards nuclear weapons leading up to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) talks in New York this week.

Of the more than 750 New Zealand youth questioned –

• Almost 70% did not think the use of nuclear weapons is acceptable under any circumstances while 6% saw it as necessary to prevent international terrorism or genocide.

• More than half said that the presence of nuclear weapons does not contribute to global peace and security with over 20% believing that it does to a certain extent.

• The NZ respondents were almost evenly split on whether the NZ government was doing enough to get rid of nuclear weapons - 43% said it should do more compared to 41% who said it was already doing enough.

A survey of 4,362 people from their teens through 35 was carried out in Japan, the USA, the UK, the Philippines, South Korea and New Zealand.

The New Zealand part of the survey was conducted by student members of the Buddhist based NGO Soka Gakkai International of NZ (SGINZ), the Peace Foundation and the United Nations Youth Association of NZ .They surveyed their peers in Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Most of those who responded in New Zealand were in their teens.

SGINZ's survey coordinator, Joycelyn Foo said the survey was conducted because the views of today’s generation of young people have not been prominent in the current debate on nuclear disarmament.

"New Zealand's nuclear free status was built on a wave of strong public opinion in the 1970s and '80s before the youth of today were born. We were not sure whether young people today support disarmament. So it's encouraging that more than two thirds of those surveyed, both in New Zealand and internationally, said they rejected the use of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances," Ms Foo said.

Ms Foo said she believed support among youth for nuclear abolition would grow as they became more aware of the issues and the potential consequences of nuclear conflict. SGI representatives attending the NPT Review Conference in New York will present the survey results to the Chair of the conference.

Disarmament Minister Georgina Te Heu Heu is leading the NZ delegation at the conference. A cross-party debate will be held in Parliament tonight on the NPT Review Conference and nuclear disarmament.

The full survey results can be viewed at http://www.peoplesdecade.org/about/efforts/index.html

ENDS

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