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Nuclear deterrence?

December 3, 2017


ICAN official urges Japan to join anti-nuke weapons treaty





GENEVA--An executive of the international nongovernmental organization that won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize vowed to strengthen the campaign to ask Japan and other countries to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.


Beatrice Fihn, 35, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), also said that her group will use the Nobel Peace Prize award money to establish a new fund to promote its activities.


She made those remarks in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun here on Dec. 1 ahead of the awards ceremony to be held Dec. 10 in Oslo.


ICAN, based in Geneva, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October on the grounds that it advocated the inhumanity of nuclear weapons and contributed to the adoption of the treaty in July.


In the interview, Fihn pointed out that the Japanese government’s stance of relying on the U.S. nuclear umbrella means that it supports the idea of threatening other countries with nuclear weapons.


She cast doubts on that stance, saying ICAN will ask Japanese politicians and people the serious question of whether Japan is accepting the idea of threatening to do the same thing to others as what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.


Amid North Korea’s ongoing development of nuclear weapons and missiles, Fihn said, “With the threats, we no longer have to convince people that the threat is real. People are feeling it. They know it’s real. So I think we have a unique opportunity now to really make progress.


“I think when we’re thinking about the humans or putting humans first, that’s when we make progress ... Not 'America First,' (but) humans first.”


The signing of the treaty started in September but only three countries have ratified it.


Ratification of 50 countries is necessary for the treaty to take effect, which ICAN is aiming to realize within two years. For that purpose, it plans to set up a new fund within ICAN.


The group named it the “1,000-day fund” so that it can achieve the ratification of 50 countries within 1,000 days from Dec. 10, the day of the awards ceremony.


In addition to the prize money of 9 million Swedish kronor (about 120 million yen, or $1.1 million), ICAN will collect donations for the fund.


The fund will be used to support activities of cooperating groups throughout the world so that they can promote their campaigns to urge the governments and the people of their countries to sign and ratify the treaty.


Fihn harbors strong doubts on the “nuclear deterrence” that Japan is relying on, saying that it will be unable to stop accidents from occurring due to misunderstandings, cyberattacks or individuals that aren’t rational.


“Nuclear deterrence isn’t flawless. Even if it does work to some extent, it can still fail and the consequences would be devastating,” she said.


As Foreign Minister Taro Kono says, the Japanese government asserts that nuclear weapons are necessary to deter North Korea.


However, Fihn said that the mechanism to create peace and stability based on fear of nuclear weapons is not working and, on the contrary, is creating an unstable situation.


“Introducing nuclear weapons in a conflict situation makes it more tense and increases the risk of an accident where these weapons will actually be used,” she said.


(This article was written by correspondents Tsutomu Ishiai and Ichiro Matsuo.)


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