Photo (left to right): Japan's Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera. Foreign Minister Taro Kono, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Credit: Japan MOFA - Photo: 2017

Japan Determined to Play a Bridging Role for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons

Viewpoint by Tarō Kōno, Japan’s Foreign Minister

The UN General Assembly’s First Committee adopted on October 28 Japan’s draft resolution ‘United action with renewed determination towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons’, which is scheduled to be put on a vote in a plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly in early December. 144 countries including nuclear weapon states supported it. Following are extensive excerpts from the transcript of the video message by Japan’s Foreign Minister Tarō Kōno, posted on October 20, 2017 on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ channel (mofachannel) on YouTube.

TOKYO | UNITED NATIONS (IDN-INPS) – Unfortunately the difference of approaches towards a world free of nuclear weapon has become clear between nuclear and non-nuclear weapon States as well as among non-nuclear weapon States. Besides as the international security environment deteriorates, the discussion towards such ultimate goal has become further complicated.

Work on nuclear disarmament in these circumstances will require us to rebuild cooperation and trust among all states. We need to find a common ground for the international community to take united action on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Japan is determined to make every effort to play a bridging role to actively contribute to creating a path towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Every year since 1994 Japan has submitted a draft resolution outlining a concrete and practical approach to building momentum towards a world free of nuclear weapons.

These resolutions vary slightly based on each year’s circumstances. But all 23 of them have presented a means for united action by the international community. They are symbol of our abiding commitment to nuclear disarmament. Japan submitted the newest resolution on October 11.

I would like to turn now to key obstacles to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. North Korea’s advancement in nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development have been posing an unprecedented grave and imminent threat to international peace and security as well as to the NPT regime.

Since last year North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests and has launched nearly 40 ballistic missiles. Even since the beginning of this year North Korea has repeated these launches some of which appear to be new models of missiles. In July 2017 alone North Korea launched two ICBM class ballistic missiles while two ballistic missiles flew over Japan in August and September. Such provocation by North Korea is totally unacceptable. Unfortunately there are growing security concerns in the international community.

Without addressing such concerns making real progress in nuclear disarmament would be difficult. Our draft resolution this year underlines the necessity of promoting nuclear disarmament while clearly stating the importance of ensuring security and nuclear non-proliferation. They are inseparable from the process of nuclear disarmament.

Among the various approaches that have been presented, Japan’s draft resolution seeks to provide a common ground for all states to renew their commitment to nuclear disarmament. This includes nuclear weapon states and states facing direct security threats. Steady efforts on nuclear disarmament are needed with cooperation by all states particularly those which actually possess nuclear weapons. I am therefore encouraged to see that our draft resolution has already gained co-sponsorship from both nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states.

Another key area is non-proliferation treaty. The NPT is the most universal framework for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation today with participation by both nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states. A successful 2020 NPT review process is important for all states. We will work to increase transparency on nuclear arsenals of the nuclear weapon States and to strengthen the NPT review process through the non-proliferation and disarmament initiative. The NPDI is a cross regional group of non-nuclear weapon states representing diverse perspectives. We believe that efforts by this group will surely provide international community a common ground.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)

Next I would like to touch on the comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty. The CTBT functions as a de facto norm even though it has not yet entered into force. To make a further step forward in a common call by the international community towards its early entry into force our draft resolution strongly urges North Korea to cease its nuclear test and to participate in the CTBT.

North Korea, which is not a treaty signatory, is the only case in the world today conducting nuclear tests in total disregard of the resolution of the United Nations Security Council. Needless to say signing on and ratification of the CTBT by non-signatory and non-ratifying states are no less important. Japan remains committed to supporting the CTBT’s early entry into force.

The achievement of a world free of nuclear weapons is an earnest wish of the people of Japan as the only country to have ever experienced nuclear devastation during war. Immediately after taking office as foreign minister I visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August this year. The first-hand experiences I heard from atomic bomb survivors or Hibakusha renewed my commitment to nuclear disarmament.

Japan has a particular responsibility to help all generations and all countries understand the terrible reality of atomic bombing. Greater awareness can serve as the foundation for further efforts to realize a world free of nuclear weapons.

Japan will help raise awareness by promoting visits and exchanges with Hibakusha by world leaders and the younger generations to further increase awareness towards the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Collaboration among governments international organization and civil society which all share the same aspiration is important.

I would like to ask for your understanding on Japan’s basic approach on disarmament and your strong support for Japan’s draft resolution. We can build a better world free of nuclear weapons if we can unite under this resolution. [IDN-InDepthNews – 29 October 2017]

Related articles: Japan waters down text of annual anti-nuclear resolution to imply acceptable use of nukes

Japan losing influence in push for nuclear disarmament

Photo (left to right): Japan’s Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera. Foreign Minister Taro Kono, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Credit: Japan MOFA

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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