Anti-nuclear organization conducts survey on no-first-use policy of nuclear weapons

by Kohei Okata, Staff Writer

The ICNND Japan NGO Network, comprised of anti-nuclear groups in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, held a press conference at the Bar Association Hall in Tokyo on August 14 to release the results of a survey regarding the U.S. “nuclear umbrella” in Japan. The organization surveyed political parties and other entities with an eye toward the general election in the Lower House on August 30 and found that only the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is opposed to the idea of urging the United States to adopt a no-first-use policy for its nuclear weapons.

The ICNND Japan NGO Network is a body that was established to convey the voices of ordinary citizens to the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND). Such political parties as the LDP, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the New Komeito, the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the People’s New Party, and the New Party Daichi have responded to the survey. Responses have not been received from the Your Party, the New Party Nippon, and the Okinawa Social Mass Party.

In the survey, the question was posed as to whether or not the United States should be urged to adopt a policy of no-first-use. Such a policy would prohibit the nuclear superpower from using its nuclear arsenal unless it was first attacked with nuclear weapons. Abiding by traditional government policy in this area, the LDP is opposed to the idea, saying, “there is no way of verifying a policy of no-first-use.” The DPJ did not indicate whether it was for or against the idea, explaining that “this is an issue that should be discussed with President Obama in the process of creating a relationship of trust.” The other parties all confirmed their support for the no-first-use policy.

At the press conference, Masayoshi Naito, a lawyer and co-chair of the network, pointed out that the no-first-use policy is essential in diminishing the role of nuclear weapons and eventually leading to their elimination. “The New Komeito, though a bloc of the ruling party’s coalition, supports such a policy and it seems the DPJ will decide its position based on the stance taken by President Obama in the future,” Mr. Naito said. “I expect that this policy will be debated positively after the general election.”

In regard to a question concerning the U.S. nuclear umbrella, both the LDP and the New Komeito responded that “Japan should continue to rely on it.” While the JCP and the SDP support the idea of removing the nation from beneath the nuclear umbrella, the DPJ stated that such a move should be contingent on establishing the nuclear-free-zone in Northeast Asia which the party has incorporated into its manifesto.

(Originally published on August 15, 2009)