Chief Cabinet Secretary Hayashi says U.S. subcritical nuclear test does not violate CTBT; following policy of previous administrations

by Koji Higuchi, Staff Writer

Regarding the subcritical nuclear test conducted by the United States this month, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi stated at a press conference on May 20 that the test did not violate the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Following Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa’s lead last week, he indicated he did not see the issue as a problem, highlighting the Kishida administration’s continuity with previous governments. Mr. Hayashi did not address the question of whether he would protest or not, and atomic-bomb survivors reacted in anger, saying his words were inconsistent with his actions while calling for a world without nuclear weapons.

Like Ms. Kamikawa, who mentioned the test in its planning stage on May 14, Mr. Hayashi said the test did not involve a nuclear explosion, which is prohibited by the CTBT. When asked whether he would tolerate nuclear testing that did not violate the CTBT, he avoided comment, saying, “This is an issue to be considered in the future as we work toward nuclear disarmament.” This answer was exactly the same as that given by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in 2019.

This is the third subcritical nuclear test conducted by the U.S. under the administration of President Joe Biden and the first since September 2021. While A-bomb survivors’ organizations, Hiroshima Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki, and Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui have expressed their protest to the U.S., the Japan government has remained silent.

Terumi Tanaka, 91, co-chair of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organization (Nihon Hidankyo) said in an interview, “If the Kishida administration is committed to nuclear disarmament, it should clearly protest against subcritical nuclear testing which is part of nuclear development. It is the role of the A-bombed nation to make proposals to the U.S. as to how to get out from beneath the nuclear umbrella.”

(Originally published on May 21, 2024)