Devnet – Part 3 – Thoughts at the 76th Anniversary Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony

Fumiyasu Akegawa – Chair & CEO, DEVNET INTERNATIONAL

At the ceremony in Nagasaki on August 9, UN Under-Secretary-General Izumi Nakamitsu attended and read the message of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. In his message, Mr. Guterres emphasized the vision of a “world without nuclear weapons”, which is the theme of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which came into effect on January 22, this year.  He also urged governments to strengthen their commitment to a “world without nuclear weapons” through the 10th Conference on the Operation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which will be held from January 4, next year.  The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) allows the five major countries of the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and France to possess nuclear weapons, and prohibits their spread to other countries. The operational meeting, which is held once every five years to explore the path of nuclear disarmament, was postponed once in August this year due to the spread of COVID-19 infection, and then re-postponed in January next year. Last time in 2015, the agreement document could not be adopted due to the difference in the positions of the member countries.

While the NPT has stagnated, the buildup of nuclear weapons has not stopped.  According to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), an international NGO, nuclear-weapon states spent a total of about $ 72.6 billion on nuclear weapons last year. That’s $ 1.4 billion more than the previous year.  Naturally, expectations for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons have increased, and 55 countries and regions have already ratified it. The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and representatives of the A-bomb survivor groups also appealed for the Japanese government to sign and ratify the treaty as soon as possible on the day of the atomic bombing. 

However, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga made no mention of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in his speeches in either Hiroshima or Nagasaki.  At a press conference held after the Hiroshima Ceremony, he answered that the Government of Japan had no intention of signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and was cautious about participating in the first Conference of the Parties as an observer. Why? The prime minister cites the fact that nuclear-weapon states have not participated in the treaty and that Japan is continuing its efforts in line with the reality of nuclear deterrence. The nuclear deterrence of the Japanese government, which is not a nuclear-weapon state, means the security of Japan, which is under the umbrella of the United States’ nuclear weapons.

Ms. Nakamitsu, who is also the senior representative for disarmament at the United Nations, mentioned the relationship between the NPT and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at a meeting in Nagasaki.  “Understanding as if they were in conflict is not true. Originally, the two treaties should be complementary, so attending a Conference of the Parties as an observer will not adversely affect the NPT,” she said. In addition, according to recent opinion polls, about 70% of people are seeking participation in the treaty of Japan. “We will continue to promote comprehensive support measures while staying close to the A-bomb survivors,” Suga said in a speech in Nagasaki. However, according to media reports, the representatives of the five organizations in Nagasaki who met with the Prime Minister and handed over the request form all said in unison. “I never felt close to the country.”, “We are abandoned by the country.” Trust is lost by repeating words that do not involve action.

The Government of Japan must face the will of the people. It should first participate as an observer in the first Conference of the Parties scheduled for March next year, and ultimately aim to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. If there is a problem with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, it can be pointed out at the Conference of the Parties.

Switzerland and Sweden, which have not ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, have announced their participation as observers. Many Japanese politicians such as Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Norihisa Tamura and Speaker of the House of Representatives Tadamori Oshima attended the ceremony in Nagasaki.  I would like Japanese politicians to think more about the role Japan should play in the world of post COVID-19.  Isn’t it what Japan is expected from all over the world to speak and act with initiative in the debate over nuclear disarmament?

And not only the “A-bombed areas” Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the entire Japanese people want Japan to become the leader of the “world without nuclear weapons.”