Efforts being made to send Foreign Minister Hayashi, PM assistant Terada to NPT Review Conference—Prime minister also seeking ways to attend

by Koji Higuchi, Staff Writer

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who represents Hiroshima Prefecture’s District No. 1, has determined to send Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi, and Minoru Terada, special assistant to the prime minister, to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, to be held at the United Nations headquarters in New York City during January 4–28, 2022. On the opening day of the conference, Mr. Hayashi, who represents Yamaguchi Prefecture’s District No. 3, is scheduled to deliver a speech that is reflective of the views of Mr. Kishida, who supports the pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons. Mr. Terada, who represents Hiroshima Prefecture’s District No. 5, will take on the responsibility of acting as coordinator of nuclear-disarmament negotiations. For his part, Prime Minister Kishida is exploring arrangements to visit the United States during the conference to attend a Japan-U.S. summit meeting and participate in the conference.

The NPT Review Conference, held every five years, is the only international conference at which nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states engage in discussions about a path toward nuclear disarmament. Governments from countries around the world send top-level ministers and executives of government agencies to the conference. Prime Minister Kishida has maintained that the conference is important as an ‘entry point’ for realization of a world without nuclear weapons.

In the last conference, held in 2015, Mr. Kishida delivered a speech as Japan’s minister of foreign affairs, but ultimately the conference negotiations broke down. The Kishida administration has been engaged in unprecedented preparations for the upcoming conference. The prime minister will send aides who have a good understanding of his ideas to convey to the world the principle of nuclear abolition and bring about agreement on the reduction of nuclear warheads.

Mr. Hayashi is chairperson of the Kishida faction and sits in the second most powerful position in the group. Mr. Terada is a second-generation Hiroshima A-bomb survivor whose grandfather-in-law was Hayato Ikeda, a former prime minister who established the dovish stance of the Kochikai faction, which is now the Kishida faction.

Prime Minister Kishida has displayed enthusiasm for visiting the United States as soon as possible to hold talks with U.S. President Joe Biden, who also believes in a world without nuclear weapons, a philosophy also espoused by the former U.S. Obama administration. According to a source, if Mr. Kishida can settle matters concerning the start of the ordinary Diet parliament session scheduled for the beginning of next year, he will stay on in the U.S. and participate in the review conference, where he hopes to convey his thoughts as a prime minister from the A-bombed city of Hiroshima.

The NPT Review Conference had been scheduled to be held during April to May 2020, but it has been postponed three times because of the coronavirus pandemic.

(Originally published on December 18, 2021)