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2012年3月29日 (木)

社説:核安保サミット 日本の存在感がない

(Mainichi Japan) March 28, 2012
Editorial: Japan must take more active role in nuclear security
社説:核安保サミット 日本の存在感がない

Japan barely left an impression at the Nuclear Security Summit held in Seoul on March 26 and 27. This is despite a major debate on the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, as well as a lively exchange about North Korea's plans to launch a "satellite."

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda arrived in Seoul on the night of the 26th and left less than 24 hours later. Perhaps distracted by the consumption tax issue back in Japan, he merely engaged in short "meetings" with other heads of state, including U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao. In contrast, Obama arrived in Seoul on the 25th, met with his South Korean, Chinese and Russian counterparts, visited the Korean Demilitarized Zone, and called on the North Korean administration to practice restraint.

This is not to say that a long visit is always better than a short one. However, one cannot help but have serious doubts about whether Noda was able to communicate Japan's concern over the threat North Korea poses with its nuclear program and missiles, and its renewed determination to implement anti-nuclear terrorism measures based on lessons from the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The summit in Seoul was the second nuclear security meeting; the first took place in Washington D.C. in 2010. With over 50 countries and regions represented, its goal is to prevent nuclear substances from falling into the hands of terrorist organizations, and to protect nuclear power facilities from terrorist attacks. The disaster at the Fukushima plant, in which power was completely lost due to a massive quake and tsunami, was deemed a situation that could be caused by a terrorist attack, and added to the conference's list of major discussion topics.

In a speech addressed to the conference participants, Noda stated the importance of anticipating the unanticipated, and vowed that Japan would reinforce power supply systems at nuclear plants and protection against radiation; conduct joint drills among police, the Ground Self-Defense Force, the Japan Coast Guard and the Maritime Self-Defense Force; and strengthen measures against cyberattacks. And yet, the impression remained that his speech lacked depth.

There's a theory that the kidnappings of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents were conducted in preparation for attacks on Japanese nuclear power plants. The chance of Japanese nuclear plants being attacked by North Korean missiles, or of Japanese nuclear plants near the Sea of Japan -- and therefore close to North Korea -- being commandeered by North Korea must be anticipated and prepared for. North Korea is a threat not only for its nuclear program and missiles, but as a possible instigator of nuclear terrorism.

The Seoul Communique delivered at the closing ceremony of the nuclear summit stated that nuclear terrorism was "one of the most challenging threats to international security" and that in light of the Fukushima disaster, "sustained efforts are required" to ensure nuclear safety. The promotion of "nuclear forensics," used to determine the origin of nuclear materials, is another significant move mentioned in the statement.

For many Japanese, nuclear terrorism may feel like something that does not concern them. However, regardless of the cause, we have experienced the horrific outcome of a nuclear power facility that has become uncontrollable. It is our responsibility to share our experience with the international community, and to draw on it in preventing nuclear terrorism. The world is seeking Japan's active participation in preventing nuclear terrorism and establishing East Asian security.

毎日新聞 2012年3月28日 2時32分


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