A-bombed Hiroshima’s perspective: Chugoku Shimbun makes proposals to G7 Hiroshima Summit for achievement of nuclear-free world

Learn devastating consequences of A-bombing

*Visit Peace Memorial Park, take time to tour the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, and fully explore the exhibited items
*Listen to stories from A-bomb survivors about their experiences
*Clearly indicate recognition of nuclear weapons’ inhumanity in summit’s final statement
*Call on the international community to visit the A-bombed cities

It is crucially important for the G7 leaders to tour the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and listen to the experiences and hopes for peace of the A-bomb survivors to ensure their clear understanding of the devastation wrought by the atomic bombing. The opportunity to do so appears possible, but the leaders need to spend time on these activities rather than treating them simply as events to rush through.

Moreover, nuclear weapons’ inhumanity should be clearly indicated in the final statement resulting from the Hiroshima Summit. The 2022 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference’s draft final document, which ultimately was not adopted due to Russian opposition, incorporated the language “deep concern about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.”

Following the G7 leaders’ visit to Hiroshima, our hope is that they share what they have seen and heard about the A-bombing tragedy and their feelings about the experience in their own words. We hope that will motivate other leaders across the world to visit the A-bombed cities.

Draw roadmap to break free of reliance on nuclear deterrence

*Recognize that security dependent on nuclear deterrence is an illusion and dangerous for humankind
*Reduce the role that nuclear weapons play in security measures, and propose to launch a serious debate about withdrawing from nuclear deterrence policies
*Show determination to exhaust all diplomatic efforts toward peaceful resolution of wars and conflicts

Nuclear nations and some non-nuclear nations, including Japan, that exist under the “nuclear umbrella” provided by the United States, maintain a position of reliance on nuclear weapons for their own security. With the nuclear superpower Russia invading the non-nuclear Ukraine, other nations have begun to move in the direction of strengthening their own nuclear deterrence capabilities.

Finland, a country close to Russia that has traditionally adopted a policy of neutrality in its foreign diplomacy, joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), essentially a nuclear alliance, earlier this year in April. The same month, the United States and South Korea announced establishment of a new consultative body by which information would be shared on U.S. nuclear operations in a structure modeled on NATO.

The communique that resulted from the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Nagano Prefecture this past April, prior to the Hiroshima Summit, stated that, “Our security policies are based on the understanding that nuclear weapons, for as long as they exist, should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war and coercion.” The statement attempted to draw a distinction with Russia, which has repeatedly threatened the use of nuclear weapons for the sake of its invasion of Ukraine, and condoned the concept of nuclear deterrence.

However, a nuclear umbrella cannot be used as a “shield” to provide protection from attack. Moreover, it will be a “sword” when all else fails. Continuation of a security framework based on nuclear deterrence puts humanity at risk, a reality that has been pointed out not only by A-bomb survivors and the A-bombed cities but numerous specialists as well. In 2018, a meeting of the International Group of Eminent Persons, organized by the Japanese government and attended by leaders from the nuclear nations, including the United States, Russia, France, and China, arrived at a consensus that nuclear deterrence was dangerous as a long-term foundation for global security.

The G7 leaders should acknowledge the fact that security based on nuclear deterrence is an illusion and express the intent to reduce their reliance on nuclear weapons. We hope talks about drawing a roadmap to break free of reliance on nuclear deterrence can be initiated promptly.

Pledge to ratify Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)

*Pledge continuation of the non-use of nuclear weapons and have the nuclear powers among the G7 nations declare they will not use or threaten to use such weapons. As related specific measures, announce adoption/reinforcement of a policy defined as “no first use of nuclear weapons” and another based on “negative security assurance,” which prohibits use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear nations, and to gain support from non-nuclear nations for the policies
*Immediately advance existing nuclear disarmament/non-nuclear-proliferation policies by enacting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and achieving transparency on nuclear stockpiles
*Ensure that the United States makes diplomatic efforts to enact a successor to the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (new START) with Russia
*Pledge the signing and ratification of the TPNW. The Japanese government should promote the TPNW in timely fashion by standing with the A-bomb survivors and their wish for the earliest possible elimination of nuclear weapons

Continuation of the policy of non-use of nuclear weapons is the minimum requirement. In addition to demanding that Russia get on board with this thinking, the G7 nuclear nations should express their intent to not use such weapons. Twenty nations and regions (the G20), including Russia, China, and India, agreed in its November 2022 Leaders’ Declaration that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inexcusable. No retreat from that stance is acceptable.

The elimination of nuclear weapons is the ultimate aim. To that end, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China, nations with the privilege of possessing nuclear weapons based on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), must undertake to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament, based on Article 6 of the treaty. The final document adopted at the 2000 NPT Review Conference also included a statement regarding the nuclear weapons states’ commitment to achieve total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

No first use of nuclear weapons is the first concrete measure proposed for nuclear disarmament. The policy calls on nations to not be the first to use nuclear weapons before use by an adversary during armed conflict. That understanding is more necessary than ever as Russia refuses to rule out use of the weapons. Additionally, it is important to accomplish a legally binding “negative security assurance,” which would prohibit nuclear nations from attacking non-nuclear nations. These policies were discussed in the process of crafting the 2022 NPT Review Conference draft final document, which was not ultimately adopted. Non-nuclear nations under the nuclear umbrella should also back and support these policies.

Using as a model the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (known as the Tlatelolco Treaty), serious deliberations should take place regarding the denuclearization of Northeast Asia, including the three countries of Japan, South Korea, and North Korea, as a way to hinder North Korea’s nuclear development. Furthermore, if the United States and Russia, nations possessing 90 percent of nuclear weapons in the world, do not make progress in nuclear disarmament, there will be no prospect for the involvement of China, a country now rushing to build its own nuclear arsenal, at the negotiating table for disarmament.

On the other hand, non-nuclear nations and civil society took the lead in establishing the TPNW in 2017, after increased frustration with the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament. The TPNW prohibits all nations from the possession and use of nuclear weapons and threats of their use.

The TPNW came into force in 2021, with 68 nations and regions ratifying it to date. Despite opposition from nuclear nations, the treaty can no longer be ignored, with its factual information being incorporated into draft final document proposed at the 2022 NPT Review Conference. Japan also referred to the TPNW for the first time last year in its resolution on the abolition of nuclear weapons, a document submitted to the UN General Assembly annually for the past 29 years.

At the G7 Hiroshima Summit, participants should take it one step further by expressing their intent to sign and ratify the TPNW. The national government of the A-bombed nation of Japan is in a position of taking the lead in such discussions at the meeting. At the very least, Japan should participate as an observer at the Second Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW, to be held sometime this year, and make progress on the debate regarding the abolition of nuclear weapons based on the tragedy of the atomic bombings.

Support nuclear victims worldwide

*Construct an archive related to global nuclear victims and indicate a policy of utilizing the archive for assistance and nuclear disarmament education
*Establish an international fund to provide assistance to nuclear victims around the world

The United States developed the atomic bombs and dropped them on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since then, nuclear nations, including the G7 members of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, have repeatedly conducted nuclear testing more than 2,000 times at various test sites throughout the world. In 1954, when America tested a hydrogen bomb at the Bikini Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, in the central region of the Pacific Ocean, the Japanese tuna fishing boat Daigo Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon No. 5), out of Shizuoka Prefecture, was contaminated by radiation from the test. Estimates indicate that around 1,000 Japanese fishing boats were in that same ocean area at the time.

Other nuclear devastation includes the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in the former Soviet Union and the use of depleted uranium weapons in the Iraq war. Data on the human-health and environmental effects of radiation should be accumulated for utilization in providing support in case of nuclear power plant accidents and for nuclear disarmament education.

Leaders from other nations, such as South Korea, where some A-bomb survivors live, and Australia, some of whose indigenous peoples and soldiers have been affected by nuclear testing conducted by the United Kingdom, have been invited to an expanded meeting of the Hiroshima Summit. There is, therefore, potential for the establishment of a fund to provide assistance to nuclear victims worldwide by gaining support from numerous nations that lie outside the conventional G7 framework. Also meaningful would be to make nuclear nations aware of the spread of radiation damage besides that from nuclear weapons.

Work so G7 nations can take leadership role in elimination of all nuclear

*Continue to include nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation as key agenda items of the G7 until total elimination of nuclear weapons is achieved
*Develop and maintain a nuclear disarmament roadmap

Prime Minister Kishida’s decision to hold the G7 summit in Hiroshima and his selection of nuclear disarmament as the summit’s key agenda have some degree of significance. An effect is expected once the G7, consisting of nuclear nations and non-nuclear nations that rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella, unites to work on the agenda. The G7 needs to have serious debate about the abolition of nuclear weapons at the G7 Hiroshima Summit, deliver results, and bring that momentum to the summit meetings next year and beyond. Establishment of a partnership is also crucial with respect to the so-called “Global South,” consisting of emerging nations and developing nations that support the TPNW.

The Mayors for Peace, an organization for which Hiroshima serves as the chair city, set 2020 as the target year to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons, a goal that failed to be realized. The organization has not specified a new deadline for abolition of the weapons. The Hiroshima Prefectural government has called for the elimination of nuclear weapons by 2045, the 100-year anniversary of the atomic bombing. We hope the G7 summit meeting can determine the timing and aims for the reduction of nuclear stockpiles and express its resolution to move toward the elimination of nuclear weapons while the A-bomb survivors are still alive.

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)
The first-ever international treaty that completely prohibits the development, possession, use, and threat of use of nuclear weapons. Its preamble clearly indicates it being, “Mindful of the unacceptable suffering of and harm caused to the victims of the use of nuclear weapons (hibakusha).” The treaty stipulates provision of assistance to those affected by use or testing of nuclear weapons as an obligation of the states parties to the treaty. Against the backdrop of a spread of recognition of the inhumanity of nuclear weapons and the stagnation in nuclear disarmament efforts, some non-nuclear nations such as Austria took the lead in establishment of the TPNW through collaboration with non-governmental organizations. The TPNW was adopted after negotiations at the United Nations with 122 nations and regions voting in favor in July 2017. The treaty came into force in January 2021, with 68 nations and regions now ratifying the treaty. Nine nuclear nations, such as the United States and Russia, as well as non-nuclear nations, like Japan, that rely on nuclear deterrence provided by the United States for security have not yet joined the treaty.

(Originally published on May 7, 2023)