Japanese NGOs request shift in nation’s nuclear policy

by Kohei Okata, Staff Writer

On October 15, leading non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Japan, including the Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (HANWA), submitted a request to Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, calling on the new government to change Japan's nuclear policy.

The request calls for reviews of five items in Japan's policy which previous governments were dismissive of. These items include: supporting a U.S. declaration for the "no first use" of nuclear weapons, backing a nuclear weapons convention, and declaring the intention to realize a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Northeast Asia. A total of 240 people, including representatives of NGOs and citizens, signed their names in support of the request.

The NGOs will collect signatures until the end of this month and submit these signatures as an additional document of the request. They will seek an answer from the government by November 12, when U.S. President Obama visits Japan.

Masayoshi Naito, a lawyer and one of the architects of the campaign, serves as secretary general of the Japan Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms. "The prime minister should act in line with the positive statement about pursuing nuclear disarmament that he issued at the United Nations," he said.

(Originally published on October 16, 2009)