Kishida stresses significance of Pope’s video message calling for nuclear abolition

by Seiji Shitakubo and Masatoshi Kuwabara, Staff Writers

In a press conference held on November 19, Fumio Kishida, the chairperson of the Policy Research Council of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), referred to a video message made by Pope Francis. In the message the Pope delivered prior to his visit to Japan, he said that he would pray with the people of this country that nuclear weapons are never used again. Mr. Kishida, who represents the first electoral district of Hiroshima, said that the Pope’s message “can encourage many people who hope to realize a world without nuclear weapons.” In another press conference held on the same day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the Pope’s visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki “is extremely important for informing the international community about the reality of the atomic bombings.”

Mr. Kishida, who is a former foreign minister, said that the Pope’s words are “very significant.” But he stressed that no mistakes should be made in choosing a process for achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. Referring to such issues as the bitter divide between the nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states, he said, “It would be hard to promote discussion even if we stick to legally binding things such as a treaty.”

In addition to the significance of the Pope’s visit to the A-bombed cities, Mr. Suga said, “As the only nation to have experienced atomic bombings in war, we know the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons. Japan has a duty to lead the international community in realizing a world without nuclear weapons. This is our nation’s firm policy.” But he did not go as far as to comment on the ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, the chief representative of Komeito, which forms the coalition government with the LDP, also mentioned the Pope’s visit to Japan in another news conference on the same day. He said, “The Japanese government is making efforts so that nuclear weapons will eventually be eliminated.”

(Originally published on November 20, 2019)