Nuclear weapons can be eliminated: Chapter 7, Part 2

Chapter 7: Making a fresh start
Part 2: New administration

by Yumi Kanazaki and Junichiro Hayashi, Staff Writers

Hatoyama takes step toward nuclear abolition with speech

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama looked up for a moment from his prepared remarks in English. "I would like to encourage all leaders of the world to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki and absorb with their own eyes and ears the cruelty of nuclear weapons," Mr. Hatoyama said, calmly calling for world leaders to visit the A-bombed cities.

At the UN Security Council Summit held on September 24 at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Prime Minister Hatoyama touched upon his visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki this past summer in the eight-minute statement. "I could not help feeling choked with emotion at seeing people who still suffer from the after-effects of radiation over 60 years after the bombings," Mr. Hatoyama stated.

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Headquarters noted that "the prime minister himself wrote the speech." Before his trip to the United States, Diet members belonging to the Parliamentarians for Disarmament Promotion of the Democratic Party urged Mr. Hatoyama to include the subject of nuclear weapons abolition in his statement at the United Nations. Mizuho Fukushima, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ), called on the prime minister to deliver a speech "in words more stirring than the address made by President Barack Obama in Prague." The SDPJ is a junior partner of the coalition government.

On the following day in Hiroshima, A-bomb survivors expressed delight at Mr. Hatoyama's speech. They noted that his remarks revealed a determination to eliminate nuclear weapons and encourage world leaders to visit the A-bomb cities. "The speech is an indication of change in Japanese diplomacy" was the sentiment.

Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba held a special press conference to laud the speech, saying, "Mr. Hatoyama has made a significant change to Japanese diplomacy in order to create a peaceful world for future generations."

Failure to touch on the "nuclear umbrella"

Prime Minister Hatoyama expressed his commitment to the Three Non-Nuclear Principles, but failed to touch upon how his administration will address the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

Meanwhile, Shigeru Ishiba, the chairman of the Policy Research Council of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), commented in a disparaging tone: "What a beautiful fairy tale! The president of the United States, the only nation to have used nuclear weapons, talks up 'a world without nuclear weapons' while the prime minister of Japan, the nation that was attacked, says it will 'take the lead in pursuit of the elimination of nuclear weapons.'" The LDP lost the general election held on August 30 and has become an opposition party.

Having served as minister of defense, Mr. Ishiba believes the nuclear umbrella is indispensable for Japan's security. "In the course of history, no beautiful fairy tales have brought about any real achievements," he added cynically. "I wonder how they can create a roadmap toward its realization."

Concrete measure on the diplomatic front

On the same day that the UN Security Council met, the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was also held at UN Headquarters. At this gathering, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada revealed his willingness to take the initiative. One measure involves dispatching special envoys to nine nations prior to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference to be held next May. The ratification of these nine nations is needed for the CTBT to enter into force, but they have not signed or ratified it as yet. On the diplomatic front, Mr. Okada has presented a concrete measure without delay.

How will the discussion inside Japan with regard to these issues, including the nuclear umbrella, be advanced? Jeffrey Lewis, director of the Nuclear Strategy and Nonproliferation Initiative at the New America Foundation, believes the "politician-led initiative" by the new administration to be crucial. "The new administration must stick to the realization of its policies under the grand vision of 'a world without nuclear weapons,'" he said. "In many cases, the bureaucrats will dig in their heels for the status quo, but the administration must overcome this tendency."


Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty would ban all nuclear explosions in all environments, whether on the earth's surface, underground, or in space. The CTBT was adopted at the UN General Assembly in 1996. At present, 181 countries have signed the treaty and, among them, 150 countries, including Japan, have ratified it. To enter into force, the CTBT requires ratification by all 44 countries that possess nuclear reactors for the purposes of research and power generation. Six of these nations, namely the United States, China, Indonesia, Iran, Egypt and Israel, have not ratified the treaty. North Korea, India and Pakistan have not even signed the treaty. The Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT has been held every other year since 1999.

(Originally published on October 5, 2009)

To comment on this article, please click the link below. Comments will be moderated and posted in a timely fashion. Comments may also appear in the Chugoku Shimbun newspaper.