The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kishida promotes ‘Hiroshima Action Plan’ for nuke-free world
NEW YORK — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday presented an action plan for a world without nuclear weapons during a speech at a Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in New York.
e Japanese premier also called on nuclear powers to improve the transparency of their nuclear capabilities and said Japan planned to contribute $10 million (about ¥1.33 billion) to the United Nations to establish a fund to enable young people from around the world to visit atomic-bombed cities in Japan.
e conference began Monday morning at U.N. headquarters, with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres emphasizing the importance of striving toward nuclear disarmament. is was followed by the commencement of speeches by representatives of each member country.
Kishida — the rst Japanese prime minister to attend an NPT review conference — was elected from a constituency in Hiroshima City, which was hit by an atomic bomb near the end of World War II. Kishida has o en said that nuclear disarmament is a central plank of his lifework.
“I have come to the review conference driven by a strong sense of urgency,” Kishida said at the start of his speech. “I cannot but admit that the path to a world without nuclear weapons has become ever harder. Nevertheless, giving up is not an option.”
Kishida has taken a chance by attending the conference in his capacity as prime minister. e previous conference held seven years ago ended in disarray — if it fails to produce results this time around, the very existence of the NPT could be called into question.
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Russian President Vladimir Putin intimidated the international community by saying Moscow is one of the world’s most powerful nuclear states. Putin’s words have made the prospect of nuclear disarmament much more di cult. As a result, the international community has increasingly been focusing on nuclear deterrence, and the push for nuclear disarmament has started to wane.
“e threat to use nuclear weapons by Russia in its aggression against Ukraine has contributed to worldwide concern that yet another catastrophe by nuclear weapon use is a real possibility,” Kishida said in his speech. “We should never tolerate the threat of the use of nuclear weapons, let alone the use of nuclear weapons.”
Kishida also stressed that “Japan is determined to rmly uphold the NPT as its guardian,” in e ect expressing a strong desire for this latest conference to serve as a turning point on nuclear disarmament.
e prime minister’s “Hiroshima Action Plan” is based on ve pillars: continuing the non-use of nuclear weapons; enhancing the transparency of nuclear capabilities; maintaining the decreasing trend in the global nuclear stockpile; securing nuclear non-proliferation and promoting the peaceful use of nuclear
energy; and encouraging international leaders and others to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
With China and the issue of enhanced transparency in mind, Kishida called on all nuclear-weapon states to disclose information on their respective production of ssile materials, such as highly enriched uranium and plutonium, both of which can be used to make nuclear weapons. On nuclear arms reduction, Kishida urged Washington and Beijing to hold talks on nuclear arms control and disarmament.
To build momentum toward the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Kishida proposed convening a leader-level meeting of the Friends of the CTBT during a U.N. General Assembly meeting in September.
e $10 million Youth Leader Fund for a world without nuclear weapons is aimed at fostering next-generation leaders who will engage in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
e previous conference failed to adopt a nal document. And, in light of current world circumstances, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China boosting its nuclear capabilities, it is possible that negotiations will run into dif
culties at this conference, too. (Aug. 3)
MOST SURVIVORS FEAR USE AGAIN
More than 80% of A-bomb survivors believe the possibility of nuclear weapons being used has increased since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to a recent survey.
e survey — conducted by e Yomiuri Shimbun in collaboration with the Center for Peace, Hiroshima University — found that almost half of the respondents were pessimistic about the possibility of nuclear abolition, too.
e Yomiuri Shimbun interviewed 100 A-bomb survivors across Japan between April and July, both in person and by telephone, in the run-up to the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In light of Russia’s aggression, 84 respondents said the possibility of nuclear weapons being used had “increased,” while 44 said it was “unforgivable” that Russian President Vladimir Putin had suggested using nuclear weapons, 19 “felt helpless” and 17 said it “renewed my resolve to convey the reality of the atomic bombings.”
Forty-six respondents said the possibility of nuclear abolition was “low” or “zero,” increasing from last year’s gure of 37, while 53 said abolition “will be realized,” falling from 62 last year.
Hideko Nakaoka, 93, a resident of Mihara, Hiroshima Prefecture, who experienced the atomic bombing of Hiroshima City, said: “I’m becoming increasingly fearful that the tragedy will be repeated again as a result of Russia’s invasion. e voices of A-bomb survivors haven’t reached the world.”
However, more than 80% of respondents said they “appreciate” the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which held its rst members’ meeting in June.
In order to discern young people’s attitudes, a separate online-based survey was conducted on about 1,200 rst-year students at eight universities across Japan.
Approximately 75% of the students said nuclear weapons “will de nitely be used” or are “very likely to be used” in the future.
About 70% said there was a “zero” or “low” chance of nuclear abolition, while only 4% thought abolition “will be achieved while A-bomb survivors are still alive.”
On the issue of possessing nuclear weapons, 55.9% of the students answered that it could “deter war,” and more than 80% thought Japan’s dependence on the United States’ nuclear umbrella was “understandable” or “unavoidable.” Conversely, about 80% said nuclear weapons should be “completely eliminated” or “reduced.”
Luli van der Does, associate professor at the Center for Peace, Hiroshima University, said: “While more students showed understanding of nuclear deterrence, about 80% of those calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons had studied the reality of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Visits to the A-bombed cities are fostering an awareness of peace, and next year’s summit in Hiroshima will be an important opportunity.” (Aug. 1)