Prime Minister says government will not join the TPNW meeting, prioritizing discussions involving nuclear weapons states

by Koji Higuchi, Staff Writer

At a press conference held June 15, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (representing Hiroshima Prefecture’s District No. 1) said he was not considering having the Japanese government attend the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) to be held in Vienna on June 21 to 23. In the meantime, he emphasized his desire to realize a world without nuclear weapons, which has been his lifetime’s work, and stated discussions involving the United States and other nuclear weapons states should be prioritized, which have turned their back on the nuclear ban treaty.

The meeting of signatory nations to the nuclear ban treaty will be the first international meeting to deepen discussions about, and explore ways to broaden support for the treaty, which entered into force last January at the initiative of non-nuclear weapons states. In light of Russia’s nuclear threat against Ukraine, there have been calls mainly from A-bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for the government’s participation in the meeting at least as an observer to inform the devastation wrought by the atomic bombs.

At the press conference, Mr. Kishida reaffirmed the significance of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, by saying that this is an important treaty that will serve as a way out in achieving a world without nuclear weapons. He then went on to explain that not a single nuclear weapons state is attending the meeting at the present time. He insisted that we should start with a realistic approach in promoting the efforts toward reduction and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, while emphasizing the relationship of trust with the United States which Japan relies on for its security, including nuclear deterrence.

Mr. Kishida also mentioned that in the future he would like to realize a world which will lead nuclear weapons states to the nuclear ban treaty, and showed his stance that he is aiming at the participation in the treaty together with the nuclear weapons states. Since his time as a foreign minister, the prime minister has insisted that he will devote himself to help Japan serve as a “bridge” between nuclear and non-nuclear states as the only A-bombed nation.

Germany and Norway, which are protected under the U.S. nuclear umbrella like Japan, will attend the signatory countries meeting as observers.

The Japanese government will send a delegation, including three A-bomb survivors, to the International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons to be hosted by the Austrian government in Vienna on June 20, the day before the meeting of the signatory countries to the nuclear ban treaty starts.

(Originally published on June 16, 2022)