NPT conference postponed A-bomb survivors: “Will continue to make steady efforts” Hiroshima Governor: “Continue talks for rescheduling”

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, signatory nations to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) have decided to postpone the NPT review conference. The review conference is held every five years, but this year’s, scheduled for between April and May at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, will be put off “until circumstances allow.” On March 28, A-bomb survivors in Hiroshima expressed their disappointment. However, some A-bomb survivors’ groups considered canceling the sending of delegates to the review conference because of the pandemic and have reacted calmly to the news. The conference is reported to be rescheduled for some time by April of next year, with the A-bomb survivors in Hiroshima determined to make a fresh start.

Toshiyuki Mimaki, 78, acting chair of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Hiroshima Hidankyo, chaired by Sunao Tsuboi) said, “It’s disappointing since we had prepared to communicate in New York our experiences of the atomic bombing. Despite the postponement, we’ll definitely call for the elimination of nuclear weapons there at the next opportunity.” In mid-March, the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo, based in Tokyo) decided to cancel the sending of its delegates to the conference. “In consideration of the global situation surrounding the infection’s spread, the decision seemed rather late,” indicated the group.

Expectations were high for a difficult review conference this year, with heated confrontations expected between such member states as the United States and Russia. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has been one of the subjects of disagreement between nuclear- and non-nuclear weapon states. The treaty was adopted at the United Nations in July 2017 and has been ratified by 36 countries and regions. Countries and non-governmental organizations that promote the treaty have enhanced their efforts to effect the agreement by the end of the year.

Kazuo Okoshi, 79, secretary general of the other Hiroshima Hidankyo, chaired by Kunihiko Sakuma, said, “If the nuclear ban treaty took effect during the postponement, the review conference would enter a new phase. We will continue to make steady efforts and heighten public opinion for effectuation of the treaty.”

“This was an unavoidable decision,” said Hiroshima Prefecture Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki. “But this year marks the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing, and as such it is truly regrettable that A-bomb survivors have lost the opportunity to convey their message that nuclear weapons should be eliminated as soon as possible.” He also expressed his hope that the coronavirus infection would soon calm down and his request that governments of the signatory states “continue talks for rescheduling the conference and make efforts to produce tangible results in nuclear arms reduction.”

(Originally published on March 29, 2020)