LDP’s Kishida and Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga express reservations about the Pope’s rejection of nuclear deterrence

by Seiji Shitakubo, Staff Writer

At a press conference held on November 25, Fumio Kishida, the chairperson of the Policy Research Council of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), commented on the message delivered by Pope Francis when he visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two A-bombed cities, on November 24. In his message, the Pope forcefully called for eliminating nuclear weapons. Referring to this point, Mr. Kishida said, “It was a very meaningful appeal and I wholeheartedly feel empathy toward it.” However, he once again expressed a wary stance on Japan’s early ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

Regarding the TPNW, Mr. Kishida, who has served as the Japanese minister of foreign affairs, said emphatically, “We (the Japanese government) aren’t rejecting a legal framework for nuclear weapons, but we must make sure that there are no mistakes in how such a framework is used.” When he was asked about the Pope’s rejection of the idea of nuclear deterrence, he answered, “First, we need to develop a better environment through actions such as mitigating the strained security conditions that may prompt the use of nuclear weapons.”

At another press conference held on the same day, Yoshihide Suga, the chief cabinet secretary, also recognized the Pope’s visit to the A-bombed cities by saying, “It was important in that it helped to accurately convey the true conditions of the atomic bombings to the international community.” He added, though, “For the purpose of Japan’s national defense, it is realistic and appropriate to strengthen our defense capability while maintaining and enhancing the U.S. deterrent power, including the nuclear-based deterrent, under the U.S.-Japan security treaty.”

With regard to the TPNW, Mr. Suga said, “The treaty has been established without fully reflecting the real national security viewpoints.”

(Originally published on November 26, 2019)