Japan’s foreign minister: Rebuff of statement against use of nuclear weapons was based on security concerns

by Junpei Fujimura, Staff Writer

Regarding the Japanese government’s decision not to sign a joint statement against the use of nuclear weapons, which was submitted to the Second Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, now in session in Geneva, Switzerland, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida spoke at the Lower House Foreign Affairs Committee on April 26. Mr. Kishida, who was elected from Hiroshima’s first constituency, said that the decision was made with Japan’s security environment in mind.

In response to a question posed by Akira Kasai of the Japanese Communist Party, Mr. Kishida explained, “We support the basic idea of the statement. Though we discussed its wording up until the last minute, we couldn’t reach an agreement because time was short.” This is the stance Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga struck in a press conference the day before.

At the same time, Mr. Kishida referred to a new program called “Youth Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons,” in which young people will help convey the horrors of nuclear weapons. He stressed that he will move to strengthen Japan’s policies in order to help spearhead the international movement seeking nuclear disarmament.

The joint statement includes the language “It is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances.” Japan refused to sign the statement because its request that the phrase “under any circumstances” be removed was not granted.

Mr. Kasai is a second-generation survivor of the Hiroshima bombing. He sought Mr. Kishida’s personal view, asking, “As a foreign minister elected from the A-bombed city, do you accept the use of nuclear weapons under certain circumstances?” But Mr. Kishida sidestepped the question, only repeating his explanation of what occurred in Geneva.

(Originally published on April 27, 2013)