Foreign Minister in response to announcement of pope’s visit: Japan will lead nuclear disarmament efforts, but maintain its negative stance on TPNW

by Yo Kono, Staff Writer

After a cabinet meeting September 17, newly-appointed Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, held a press conference offering his viewpoint on nuclear abolition, saying “Japan will take the lead effort in the international community being the only A-bombed nation.” His comment was made in relation to the announcement that Pope Francis would visit the A-bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on November 24. The Pope is known for emphasizing the importance of eliminating nuclear weapons.

The Pope will visit Japan from November 23 to 26, and is expected to deliver a message at the Peace Memorial Park in Naka Ward, Hiroshima. Mr. Motegi said, “The detailed schedule of the Pope’s visit is being coordinated by the Vatican now,” and added, “The visit will provide great significance to the effort of disseminating accurate information about the atomic bombing.” The Pope will also meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

Due to cabinet reshuffling, Mr. Motegi was recently appointed as Foreign Minister. He stressed the Japanese government’s intent on making efforts that help nations rebuild relationships of trust, and allow that them to seek more dialogue with one another. He said, “I am going to make active contributions to discussions in the international community.”

He also suggested next year’s scheduled Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, aimed at exploring nuclear disarmament measures, would be a crucial event. He said, “We will continue to work on initiatives for nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, so this conference might yield a meaningful result.”

Referring to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which bans the possession and use of nuclear weapons, Mr. Motegi revealed the government’s negative stance again toward signing and ratifying the treaty, saying, “Views on how nuclear arms reduction should proceed are different depending on each nation within the international community. I believe it’s important to build a common ground where all nations can work together.”

(Originally published on September 18, 2019)