Prior to NPT review conference, Japan NGO Network for Nuclear Weapons Abolition requests government to make progress on nuclear disarmament

by Koji Higuchi, Staff Writer

On December 20, prior to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, scheduled to be start in New York City on January 4, 2022, the Japan NGO Network for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, composed of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo) and citizens groups in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, requested that Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs lobby nuclear nations to put into practice nuclear disarmament agreements reached in past NPT review conferences, including promises to discard nuclear weapons. The NGO group also called on the ministry to ensure that the significance of the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is reflected in the review conference’s final document.

Nineteen members from 15 member organizations such as Kenichi Okubo, 74, the group’s co-chair who also serves as chair of the Japan Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, visited the ministry and handed the written request to Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Kentaro Uesugi. Mr. Okubo expressed a certain satisfaction regarding the promotion by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (representing Hiroshima Prefecture’s District No. 1) of “a world without nuclear weapons.” He added, “At the review conference, with regard to the issue of making progress in nuclear disarmament, our group and the government likely have points of agreement.”

While Mr. Uesugi said, “Disarmament will have crucial significance at the meeting,” he reiterated the government’s cautious stance on signing and ratification of the TPNW. “It is an important treaty in that it can point the way toward achieving a world free of nuclear weapons, but not a single nuclear nation has signed on,” he explained.

After the meeting concluded, Terumi Tanaka, 89, co-chair of the group as well as co-chair of Nihon Hidankyo, voiced his request of the government. “I have high expectations for Prime Minister Kishida, who was elected as a representative of the A-bombed Hiroshima, but I feel disappointed to find that the government’s stance on TPNW hasn’t changed since the previous administration,” said Mr. Tanaka. He added, “I’d like to see Japan open the way for the elimination of nuclear weapons.”

(Originally published on December 21, 2021)