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2014年4月15日 (火)


April 14, 2014
EDITORIAL: NPDI's declaration disappoints A-bomb survivors, anti-nuclear groups

This falls short of what we would expect in a message meant for the world that was issued from Hiroshima, a city that has suffered the ravages of an atomic bomb.

The Nonproliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), consisting of 12 countries, held its ministerial meeting in Hiroshima. The two-day conference closed with a joint declaration on April 12.

Building upon their meetings and conversations with atomic bomb survivors, the representatives made an appeal calling on the international community to come together, citing the inhumanity of nuclear weapons as the catalyst. They also urged leaders from each country to visit the only two cities to ever suffer attacks using atomic bombs: Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

That was commendable, but the declaration failed to make any reference to the need of an international treaty that bans the very same nuclear weapons they contend are inhumane. There was widespread disappointment among the survivors and nongovernmental organizations after the joint declaration.

The NPDI has been led by Japan and Australia, both of whom rely upon the U.S. “nuclear umbrella” for protection. The same also goes for the five NPDI members who are also members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, including Germany and Canada. This makes it difficult for those countries to support such a treaty banning nuclear arms straight away.

Meanwhile, within the international community, there is a group of countries who are gaining momentum in their push for the treaty, which they see as the path that will lead to the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons. At next year’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference, the proposed treaty most likely will become a central issue.

To see any progress toward making this treaty a reality, it is necessary to persuade the nuclear powers that be. To this end, unity among the non-nuclear countries is essential. The NPDI needs to fine-tune its negotiating strategy and execute it so that it can better work together with the group of countries who are calling for the more aggressive approach.

The NPDI joint declaration also demanded that the nuclear powers need to reduce the importance of nuclear weaponry in formulating their national security strategies. This is a central point that should be pushed further.

Prior to the creation of the NPDI, both Japan and Australia led an international commission that proposed in 2009 steps to do away with nuclear weapons. One of the steps called for a no-first-use of nuclear weapons policy by the nuclear powers, and that they should promise to avoid their use as long as they do not come under a nuclear attack.

Mindful of the North Korean threat, the Japanese government is reluctant to agree to the no-first-use principle because it believes that the approach would lessen the deterrence of the nuclear umbrella. However, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says conventional weapons alone can provide sufficient deterrence. Perhaps the United States should take the initiative and announce to North Korea that Washington will not be the first to use its nuclear arms in a conflict and urge Pyongyang to join the nuclear abolition talks.

Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue, who was invited to the NPDI ministerial meeting, stressed that “even countries dependent on the nuclear umbrella should reduce the importance of nuclear weapons” in their defense strategies. Countries should seriously consider a tangible plan that lays the groundwork for a security environment that enables nuclear powers such as the United States and Russia to move toward a no-first-use policy. The NPDI convened in Hiroshima and reaffirmed the inhumanity of nuclear weapons. We hope they will act on that to change the world.

The Abe administration is pushing to lift Japan's self-imposed ban on the right to exercise collective self-defense, a historical turning point in the nation’s defense policy. The move risks further heightening tensions between Japan and China, as well as Japan and North Korea. It could also make Japan more reliant on nuclear arms. That scenario will go against the Obama administration’s policy of seeking to reduce the world’s nuclear arsenals. The Abe administration should examine closely the pros and cons of exercising the right to collective self-defense from a nuclear disarmament standpoint as well.

--The Asahi Shimbun, April 13


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