Cooperation for Peace in Asia and a World without Nuclear Weapons

Remarks at the 8th General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties
Colombo, Sri Lanka
September 2014

Kazuo Shiii
Japanese Communist Party Chair
Member of the House of Representatives of Japan

ICAPP and the potential of an "Asian Community"

Mr. Chairperson and dear friends,

On behalf of Japanese Communist Party, I congratulate on the success of this 8th General Assembly of the ICAPP and express my solidarity with fellow delegates from across Asia.

The Assembly here in Colombo has its main theme: Building Asian Community.  I think this theme is a very welcome topic.

Through 20th century into 21st century, Asia has undergone a historical shift from division and antagonism to cooperation and peace.  The ICAPP, which was born in this region, has developed as a forum open to all political parties in Asia from across the ideological spectrum.  It has played an important role for dialogues, confidence-building, amity, cooperation and peace in Asia and beyond.  I am confident that this fact itself clearly shows the potential of an" Asian Community".

I hope this 8th General Assembly will open a new chapter of the advancement of the ICAPP based on the achievement of the previous assemblies. 
I would like to speak on 2 topics today. First is cooperation for peace in Asia.  Second is a nuclear weapons-free world.

Proposing an initiative for Peace and Cooperation in North East Asia

Dear friends,

Regarding to our theme-- building an Asian community--, it is important to recognize that this region already has drivers for peace based on the United Nations Charter.  Those are frameworks of regional cooperation of nations for peace developing in various parts in our region.

Especially, we pay attention to efforts and achievements by nations in South East Asia.  The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) to ensure renunciation of use of force and peaceful solution of conflicts, as well as ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), East Asia Summit (EAS), the Treaty of Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone in South East Asia, and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) as multi-layered frameworks for peace and security. Moreover, it has been extended beyond the region.

All these efforts and achievements are very different from relying on an exclusive military block which has potential enemies.  Instead, these are all inclusive and open to all nations in the region and beyond.  This is a developing regional cooperation for peace.  Enhanced dialogues and confidence-building to avoid escalation of conflict into war is a key practical aspect as peaceful solution of any conflict.  Differences in political and social systems, phases of economic development, cultures are mutually respected.  Unity in diversity is a key organizing concept.  These efforts of ASEAN member states give us indeed rich and fruitful lessons.

Turning to the North East Asia region where we Japanese live, there are various potential sources of conflicts and tension.  How to create an environment for peace in the region is a serious challenge not only for nations in North East Asia but also for peace and stability of the entire Asia.

What would happen if we embraced ideas of enhancing military deterrence or strengthening military power in addressing various conflicts?  A possible result would be a vicious circle of dangerously intensifying the tension in the military affairs.  Any problem should be solved through peaceful means based on solid and rational diplomacy.  What we need is to create frameworks to that end. 

Japanese Communist Party proposed a new initiative for Peace and Cooperation in North East Asia in the 26th party congress in January this year.  This initiative is based on the following goals and principles.

- Conclude a Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in North East Asia as rules for peace which member states need to abide by, including renunciation of the use of force, peaceful resolution of conflicts, non-interference in internal affairs, and promotion of effective dialogues and cooperation for confidence building.

- On North Korean issue, return to the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks issued in September 2005, create a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, realize a comprehensive solution on nuclear weapons, missiles, and the abduction issue as well as unsolved historical issues, and develop this framework into one that can create and maintain peace and stability in North East Asia.

 - Stick to diplomatic negotiations in a calm manner based on historical facts and international law as means to solve territorial disputes existing in the region. Strictly refrain from actions that could escalate into conflicts, such as any forcible change in the status quo and use or threat to use force, and conclude a code of conduct for the countries concerned to solve conflicts through friendly consultations and negotiations in accordance with the international law.

 - Japan's remorse over its past war of aggression and colonial rule is the essential basis to develop amity and cooperation in North East Asia. Swiftly solve Japan's military sexual slavery issue and other unsolved issues and block the rise of adverse forces trying to falsify the historical record.

For an Asian Community for peace, amity, cooperation and prosperity

Dear Friends,

Our proposal is not an idealistic rhetoric.  Our proposal follows the achievements of ASEAN regional cooperation for peace based on the TAC.

We also pay attention to some proposals for regional cooperation for peace in North East Asia from several governments in East Asia.  President Park Geun-hye of Republic of Korea proposed an initiative for peace and cooperation in North East Asia in her speech in the Unites States Congress.  Her proposal included process of multilateral dialogue in the entire North East Asia and a mechanism for peace and cooperation.  The government of Indonesia has called for a treaty of amity and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.  This is part of an effort to expand cooperation for peace in South East Asia to the entire indo-pacific.  The ASEAN ministerial meeting in August welcomed the Indonesian proposal.

These proposals share the same direction of ours.  A new initiative for peace and cooperation in North East Asia, as we propose, is a practical and fundamental way to bring about peace and stability in the region. With this belief, I express my determination to share this view with a wide range of governments and political parties so that it will eventually come true.

The draft Colombo Declaration states, "We expressed our hope that such frameworks of regional cooperation and integration like the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) among ASEAN members, and closer unity among the members of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will be formed in other parts of our region, and will ultimately be applicable at an all-inclusive pan-Asian level."

I welcome this from my heart.  Creating and developing regional frameworks for peace in various parts in Asia and finally extending it to a pan-Asian level is a task of us all.  Let's make a collective effort to build an Asian community for peace, amity, cooperation and prosperity. 

Engaging with the world, calling for a prompt start of negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention

Dear Friends,

Now, I would like to touch upon the second topic: an issue of nuclear weapons, which is now being a serious threat to peace and stability for Asia and the world.

The next year, 2015 will mark the 70th anniversary of the tragic atomic bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.  In the same year 2015, the Review Conference by Parties to Non-Proliferation Treaty will be held in New York.  We must accelerate an effort to turn 2015 into an epoch-making year for a world without nuclear weapons.  

In August, 1945, two atomic bombs devastatingly changed two beautiful cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki into the hell.  210,000 people were dead by the end of the year. Survivors have been still suffering sickness, diseases, physical and mental wounds due to effects of radiation.  This hell must never be repeated anywhere in the world.  To that end, the international community should take responsible actions immediately.

The previous 2010 NPT Review Conference unanimously adopted its final document, reaffirming "an unequivocal undertaking" of the nuclear weapons states to "accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals" and affirming the need "to make special efforts to establish the necessary framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons."  The final document noted the five proposals by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who has called for negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention.  This is the current consensus of the international community.  We need to implement it in a practical manner.

Recently, there has been a growing call for abolition of nuclear weapons with renewed focus on the inhuman and cruel nature of nuclear weapons.  125 nations signed a joint statement at the U.N. General Assembly First Committee in October 2013, on the humanitarian consequence of nuclear weapons. It pointed out that nuclear weapons bring about "unacceptable humanitarian consequences" by their "destructive capability and indiscriminate nature," stressing that "it is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances" and that "the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again is through their total elimination."  While anti-nuclear weapons movement in Japan has made efforts to raise awareness of the inhuman and cruel nature of the weapons, the renewed focus on it in the international community is especially remarkable.

In this regard, the following phrase of the draft Colombo Declaration has positive significance.  "We reiterated the need to implement an unequivocal undertaking to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons agreed by nuclear weapons states at the Review Conferences of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 2010, and called for a prompt start of negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention, as proposed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon."

I support and welcome the point.  In order to advance toward a nuclear weapons-free world, a prompt start of negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention to totally ban and eliminate nuclear weapons is of vital importance.  This is the voice of the international community.  It has support from 2/3 of the member states of the U.N. General Assembly.  When we adopt the Colombo declaration, it will surely be a huge encouragement for an effort by the international community and civil society movements around the world to that end.

The ICAPP has a legacy advocating a nuclear weapons-free world.  The 2009 Astana Declaration stated, "A world, including all regions, without nuclear weapons should be objective".  The 2010 Phnom Penh Declaration clearly supported "negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention".  Based on these achievements, let's declare from here Colombo to the world, that it is the time to start negotiations immediately.

On behalf of Japanese Communist Party, which has long advocated and struggled, in the only country suffered from the direct atomic bombing, for total elimination of nuclear weapons, I am determined to make utmost efforts to open the door for a world without nuclear weapons. Thank you for listening.

The Central Committee of the Japanese Communist Party
4-26-7 Sendagaya,Shibuya-ku,Tokyo 151-8586