On the announcement of President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima
JCP Calls for a Serious Review of U.S. Nuclear Policy
Chair, Executive Committee, Japanese Communist Party
Member of the House of Representatives
May 12, 2016
It was officially announced that U.S. President Barak Obama will visit Hiroshima. By doing so, he will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit ground zero of the nuclear bomb blast near the end of World War II. This move is an important and positive step and has met with the approval of Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) and the people of the city.
At the same time, I have to point out that the U.S. government should change its current policy line which resists initiating international negotiations for creating a convention to ban nuclear weapons. Such a policy change is crucial to help realize “a world without nuclear weapons”.
A prompt start of international negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention that aims to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons is essential in order to achieve “a world without nuclear weapons”. The U.N. General Assembly repeatedly adopted resolutions calling on member states to do so with the support of an overwhelming majority. This is the hope of the international community as well as the desire of Hibakusha and people of the city.
Based on the “nuclear deterrence” theory, the U.S. government along with the other four nuclear weapons states–China, France, Russia and U.K.—opposes such a move by arguing that an incremental, step-by-step approach is the only practical option for making progress towards nuclear disarmament.
Although taking various separate and limited measures is important to help advance nuclear disarmament, the history of disarmament diplomacy clearly shows that a simple aggregate of such limited measures will not lead us to “a world without nuclear weapons”.
The Japanese Communist Party calls for every nuclear weapons state to fundamentally review its insistence on keeping nuclear weapons and its policy to postpone forever the total elimination of the weapons. We call on President Obama to listen sincerely to the voices of Hibakusha, face up to the inherent inhumane nature of the weapons, and conduct a serious review of U.S. nuclear policy.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomes Mr. Obama’s planned visit to Hiroshima as an encouraging move toward a nuclear-weapons-free world. Yet, I have to point out that it is the stance of Japanese government regarding this issue that is being seriously tested now.
For 20 consecutive years since 1996, Japan abstained in annual U.N. General Assembly deliberations when the body, with the support of the overwhelming majority, adopted resolutions which demanded a start of international negotiations to achieve a total ban on nuclear weapons.
In 2015, with the increasing demand of the international community to convene a nuclear weapons convention, the U.N General Assembly decided to establish a working group to discuss “legal provisions” to help create “a world without nuclear weapons”. The working group is now being held in Geneva and is highlighting the need of having a convention to ban the weapons. However, nuclear weapons states (P5) have boycotted the meetings and the Japanese government has played the role of speaking for the P5 by criticizing the holding of meetings without the participation of nuclear weapons states and arguing that “an incremental approach is the only realistic option”.
This policy of the Japanese government is shameful because it is, after all, the only nation to have actually been bombed with nuclear weapons. I also emphasize the need for the Japanese government to fundamentally change its own diplomatic stance regarding this issue.