Ruling and opposition party lawmakers representing Hiroshima kick off deliberations aimed at Diet passage of resolution on nuclear abolition

by Yo Kono, Staff Writer

Major focus is on whether reference to Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will be included

Diet lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties representing Hiroshima Prefecture have begun discussions aimed at passage of a Diet resolution calling for increased effort by the national government, as the A-bombed nation, to eliminate nuclear weapons in this year marking the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings. The Diet previously adopted similar resolutions, for example at the time of the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings as well as in 2009, when former U.S. President Barack Obama announced his appeal for “a world without nuclear weapons.” The focus of deliberations will be whether the resolution will incorporate any reference to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which, as of now, the government and ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are reluctant to ratify.

Shinji Morimoto, an upper house Diet member who serves as acting secretary general of an association of opposition Diet lawmakers seeking a world without nuclear weapons, compiled a first draft of the resolution in late February. Hiroshi Hiraguchi (representative of Hiroshima’s second district), secretary general of the LDP’s “Parliamentarians’ association to promote relief to A-bomb survivors, the abolition of nuclear weapons, and the realization of lasting world peace,” agreed to hold talks with Mr. Morimoto and is fine-tuning the resolution wording.

The draft emphasizes that this year marks not only the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States but the 50th anniversary of effectuation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). It urges Japan to play a leading role in the NPT review conference, the most critical meeting in this milestone year.

The lawmakers will ask for cooperation from their political parties, gain consensus of each party’s foreign relations committee, and submit the draft to the current Diet session. Initially, they aimed for passage of the resolution in the Diet ahead of the opening of the NPT review conference, planned for late April. But timing of the submission will be carefully examined, as postponement of the conference for one year is under consideration due to the global novel coronavirus outbreak.

Regarding the TPNW, the draft includes wording about how growing international recognition of the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons led to adoption of the treaty in 2017. However, since the government and LDP are strongly attached to nuclear deterrence provided by the United States, it is not clear whether or not such wording would ultimately be included in the resolution. Some believe that the resolution should also refer to the importance of the former Army Clothing Depot buildings, A-bombed structures located in Minami Ward, Hiroshima.

When the resolution related to the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing was adopted by the lower house of the Diet in 2005, it was combined with a resolution about the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. As some wording such as “act of aggression,” included in the resolution about the 50th anniversary of the end of the war, had been removed, the opposition party pushed back and negotiations stalled. This had a lasting impact when the resolution about the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing was proposed and discussed in 2015. Because the LDP had taken an overly cautious approach, the Diet ultimately failed to adopt the resolution.

Meanwhile, in 2009, after President Obama delivered his historic speech in Prague, a resolution was adopted by both the lower and upper houses of the Diet. This time, the aim is to have the resolution passed without reference to the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. Mr. Hiraguchi said, “It would be difficult to incorporate any statement related to TPNW. But adoption of the resolution should be possible once coordination can take place within our party.” Conversely, Mr. Morimoto stressed, “As a member of the opposition party, we insist that TPNW be referred to in the resolution, but we also want to gain support from the LDP. We want to use the resolution to enhance momentum toward the abolition of nuclear weapons.”

Main Diet resolutions adopted in the past related to elimination of nuclear weapons

1. Name of resolution
2. Key contents of resolution

November 1971  1. Resolution related to non-nuclear weapons and reduction of U.S. bases in Okinawa

          2. Japanese government was asked to uphold the three non-nuclear principles of not
           possessing, producing, or permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons into Japan, and
           to take measures to prevent nuclear weapons from being brought to Okinawa

May 1978     1. Resolution related to the U.N. General Assembly special session devoted to disarmament

          2. Called on Japanese government to make a strong appeal to promptly realize abolition of
          nuclear weapons

May 1982     1. Resolution related to the second U.N. General Assembly special session devoted to

          2. Requested the Japanese government to make a strong appeal to ban nuclear weapons
          production, testing, storage, and use

August 2005    1. Resolution pledging further contribution to establishment of international peace in
           marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, and Japan’s end of
           World War II and atomic bombings

          2. Called on the Japanese government to exercise maximum effort to explore humanity’s
           sustainable coexistence, including abolition of nuclear weapons

June 2009     1. Resolution seeking enhancement of efforts toward elimination of nuclear weapons

          2. Insisted that Japan has an obligation to take a leading role and act toward global
          elimination of nuclear weapons as the only nation to have experienced an atomic

(Originally published on March 15, 2020)