JCP Chair Shii issues statement to welcome the nuclear weapons ban treaty
July 9, 2017
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on July 7, after the UN adopted the nuclear weapons ban treaty, released a statement at the UN headquarters in NYC. The English translation of the statement was distributed to government representatives and civil society organizations. The full text is as follows:
On the adoption of the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons
Member of the House of Representatives of Japan
Chair, Japanese Communist Party
July 7, 2017
New York City, USA
The UN conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination adopted the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons on the final day of the session. The adoption of the treaty which explicitly prohibits nuclear weapons is a historic achievement made by the many years of collective efforts by hibakusha in Japan, civil society groups and organizations from around the world, and the many governments seeking to realize a world without nuclear weapons. I heartily applaud the adoption of the treaty.
The adopted treaty is as good as possible under the current circumstances and includes the necessary elements as a nuclear weapons prohibition instrument leading toward their total elimination, produced with the combined wisdom of the international community based on its first draft published on May 22.
The treaty condemns in its preamble the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons, and clarifies the basis for declaring the illegality of such weapons with reference to the United Nations Charter, international law, and international humanitarian law. It is extremely important that the treaty emphasizes “the role of public conscience” led by hibakusha by which the global community has reached to this common understanding, reminding us that the force which created this treaty is the power of global grass-roots movements.
The treaty prohibits the developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, or stockpiling nuclear weapons, the use and the threat to use such weapons as well as the stationing, installation, or deployment of them in its territory or at any place under its jurisdiction or control. The inclusion of “the threat to use nuclear weapons” among prohibited activities in the final phase of the UN negotiations is highly significant as this negates the acceptability of nuclear deterrence which is the security doctrine based on the threat to use nuclear weapons. The treaty successfully codifies the illegality of nuclear weapons and stigmatizes them.
The treaty also establishes a framework toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons. It stipulates two options for accession of nuclear weapons states in the treaty; 1) destroy nuclear weapons first, then join the treaty; 2) join the treaty first, then destroy them as soon as possible.
As the participation of nuclear weapons states in the treaty process is vital in order to realize the total elimination of nuclear weapons, the treaty leaves open the door for their participation.
The treaty includes obligations to provide appropriate assistance without discrimination to individuals and areas affected by the use or testing of nuclear weapons as the responsibility of state parties that inflicted the damage, injuries, and deaths with the nuclear weaspons, which responds to the needs and demands of hibakusha and test victims for compensation for their sufferings.
The treaty reflects what the Japanese Communist Party and the global anti-nuclear weapons movements led by hibakusha have demanded over the past seven decades.
The adoption of the treaty is a promising advance to finally achieve our shared goal of “a world without nuclear weapons.”
In order to actually achieve the total elimination of nuclear weapons, the corroboration of the following three forces is increasingly important.
The first is the force the treaty itself has.
By stigmatizing and illegalizing nuclear weapons, the treaty exerts pressure both morally and politically on nuclear weapons states and their allies which refuse to participate in the treaty process. We have gained a powerful legal norm in order to move forward toward the total elimination of such weapons.
The second is the force of the many of governments and civil society groups and organizations around the world which collectively created the treaty. It is important to note that the force of united power shown at the UN conference has created the overwhelming global public opinion supporting the total elimination of nuclear weapons and is able in its unity to exert pressure on nuclear weapons states and their allies to join the rest of the world.
The International Hibakusha Signature Collection Campaign which aims to collect hundreds of millions of signatures of support around the world has increased in importance.
The third is to have the overwhelming majority of the general public support the total elimination of nuclear weapons in the nuclear weapons states and the states under a nuclear umbrella, and greatly increase the strength and influence of movements to demand such governments to join the treaty process. Participation in the treaty requires legal procedures such as the formal signing of the treaty by the executive branch and ratification of the treaty by the legislative branch in each state. As the treaty emphasizes the role of “parliamentarians” as one of the key actors needed to represent the public conscience, it is increasingly important to change the current political position of such states in order to create forward-looking governments that choose to join the treaty.
I call for tackling this challenge head on in order for us to move forward to the total elimination of nuclear weapons by making the best use of the adoption of this historic treaty.
That the Japanese government has turned its back on the epoch-making treaty despite Japan being the only country to have been atomic-bombed in war has elicited much criticism from within Japan as well as from abroad. We sensed this disappointment in and criticism of Japan while we were at the UN conference.
The Japanese Communist Party strongly demands that the Japanese government seriously consider participating in the treaty by reviewing and changing its current position.
The Japanese Communist Party is making every effort to further strengthen the ongoing cooperation between citizens’ movements and opposition parties in Japan, and is working to create a new Japan that will proudly join with the rest of the world calling for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.