October 25, 2016
The United Nation’s Disarmament Week started on October 24. With international movements for the elimination of nuclear weapons gaining momentum, the stance of Japan, the only A-bombed country in the world, has come under scrutiny.
Meetings of the UN Open-ended Working Group discussing legal frameworks for nuclear disarmament including a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC) took place in March, May, and August in the UN Office in Geneva. In the August meeting, a report recommending the UN General Assembly to start NWC negotiations in 2017 was approved by a majority vote of 193 UN member states.
In the ongoing meeting of the UNGA First Committee on disarmament and international security which began on October 3, participants are debating a draft resolution which demands that an international meeting be arranged in 2017 to discuss a legal ban on nuclear weapons with international organizations and NGOs participating. As of October 19, 39 nations expressed their support for the draft. It is said that the resolution will be approved in early November. Japan, however, has yet to clarify its position on the document.
In the first place, the Japanese government took a negative stance toward the establishment of the UN Working Group. During the WG discussions, Japan effectively acted as a mouthpiece for the five nuclear weapons states which refuse to take part in the WG. Japan argued that discussions should be held with the presence of the nuclear weapons states and that the “step-by-step” approach is the only feasible option for nuclear disarmament. By saying this, Japan abstained from voting for the WG report.
Japan’s negative stance concerning the abolition of nuclear weapons stemmed from its dependence on the U.S. nuclear umbrella. It was reported in August that Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo objected to U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to commit to a non-first-use of nuclear weapons.
It has been 70 years since the UN General Assembly adopted its first resolution which seeks the elimination of atomic weapons. With the overwhelming majority of the countries calling for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, it is shameful for the Japanese government to cling to the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
Past related articles:
> Japan’s negative stance toward nuclear disarmament should be called into question [May 20, 2016]
> Shii: Japan should stop serving as mouthpiece for nuclear weapons states [May 15, 2016]