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Japan backs UN non-nuclear arms statement

October 22, 2013


Japan finally backs U.N. statement against use of nuclear weapons





For the first time, Japan has thrown its support behind a United Nations statement that calls nuclear warfare inhumane.

The joint statement was presented Oct. 21 to the U.N. General Assembly First Committee during a discussion on disarmament and national security.

On a number of occasions since last year, Japan has stopped short of backing similar statements that have been presented at international conferences.

This was mainly due to inconsistencies that would arise with Japan's national security policy, given that it relies on the nuclear umbrella provided by the United States.

However, prior consultations between Japan and the nations drawing up the latest statement led to revisions that made allowances for Japan's position.

The joint statement was compiled through the initiative of 16 nations, including neutral New Zealand and Switzerland. A total of 125 nations, including Japan, have expressed their support.

When a similar statement was released in April, Japan raised objections to the phrase, "It is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances."

Although that phrase remains in the latest joint statement, additional wording was included that supports "all approaches and efforts toward nuclear disarmament."

According to several sources, the revised wording is believed to have been included to take into consideration the "realistic approach" taken by Japan. This refers to Japan's efforts for gradual disarmament by the nuclear powers, including the United States, while also maintaining a nuclear deterrent. That is in addition to the "humanitarian approach" taken by the nations who initiated the effort with an eye toward eventually making nuclear weapons illegal by focusing on the humanitarian consequences.

A joint statement expressing humanitarian concerns about nuclear weapons was first proposed in May 2012 at the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. A similar statement was presented to the U.N. General Assembly First Committee in October 2012. On both occasions, Japan refused to sign.

When it also failed to sign the joint statement prepared at the second session of the preparatory committee in April, the Japanese government was criticized, especially by survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

(This article was written by Yoshiaki Kasuga in New York and Hajimu Takeda in Osaka.)


(Delivered by New Zealand Ambassador Dell Higgie)

Mr. Chairman

I am taking the floor on behalf of the following Member States: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, DR Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Fiji, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Macedonia, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South ‎Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, my own country New Zealand, and the Observer State the Holy See.


Our countries are deeply concerned about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. Past experience from the use and testing of nuclear weapons has amply demonstrated the unacceptable humanitarian consequences caused by the immense, uncontrollable destructive capability and indiscriminate nature of these weapons. The fact-based discussion that took place at the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons convened by Norway last March allowed us to deepen our collective understanding of those consequences. A key message from experts and international organizations was that no State or international body could address the immediate humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear weapon detonation or provide adequate assistance to victims.

The broad participation at the Conference, with attendance by 128 States, the ICRC, a number of U.N. humanitarian organizations and civil society, reflected the recognition that the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are a fundamental and global concern. We warmly welcome Mexico’s announcement of a follow-up

Conference, scheduled for Feb. 13-14, 2014. We firmly believe that it is in the interests of all States to participate in that Conference, which aims to further broaden and deepen understanding of this matter, particularly with regard to the longer-term consequences of a nuclear-weapon detonation. We welcome civil society’s ongoing engagement.

This work is essential, because the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons affect not only governments, but each and every citizen of our interconnected world. They have deep implications for human survival; for our environment; for socio-economic development; for our economies; and for the health of future generations. For these reasons, we firmly believe that awareness of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons must underpin all approaches and efforts toward nuclear disarmament.

This is not, of course, a new idea. The appalling humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons became evident from the moment of their first use, and from that moment have motivated humanity’s aspirations for a world free from this threat, which have also inspired this statement.

The humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons have been reflected in numerous U.N. resolutions, including the first resolution passed by this Assembly in 1946, and in multilateral instruments, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The world’s most eminent nuclear physicists observed as early as 1955 that nuclear weapons threaten the continued existence of mankind and that a war with these weapons could quite possibly put an end to the human race.

The First Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to Disarmament (SSOD-1) stressed in 1978 that “nuclear weapons pose the greatest danger to mankind and to the survival of civilization.” These expressions of profound concern remain as compelling as ever. In spite of this, the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons have not been at the core of nuclear disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation deliberations for many years.

We are, therefore, encouraged that the humanitarian focus is now well established on the global agenda. The 2010 Review Conference of the NPT expressed “deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.” That deep concern informed the Nov. 26, 2011, resolution of the Council of Delegates of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and the decision last year of this General Assembly to establish an open-ended working group to develop proposals to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. It underlies the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States’ call to the international community, in August 2013, to emphasize the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons during any discussion of nuclear issues.

Last month, at the High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament, numerous leaders from around the world again evoked that deep concern as they called for progress to be made on nuclear disarmament. Today, this statement demonstrates the growing political support for the humanitarian focus.

It is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances. The catastrophic effects of a nuclear weapon detonation, whether by accident, miscalculation or design, cannot be adequately addressed. All efforts must be exerted to eliminate the threat of these weapons of mass destruction.

The only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again is through their total elimination. All States share the responsibility to prevent the use of nuclear weapons, to prevent their vertical and horizontal proliferation and to achieve nuclear disarmament, including through fulfilling the objectives of the NPT and achieving its universality.

We welcome the renewed resolve of the international community, together with the ICRC and international humanitarian organizations, to address the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. By raising awareness about this issue, civil society has a crucial role to play side-by-side with governments as we fulfil our responsibilities. We owe it to future generations to work together to do just that, and in doing so, to rid our world of the threat posed by nuclear weapons.




Japan joins UN non-nuclear arms statement



Japan has for the first time signed up to a UN statement that says nuclear weapons should not be used under any circumstances.

The statement was adopted on Monday at the UN General Assembly's First Committee on disarmament. The document, proposed by New Zealand, was released by 125 countries.

The statement says nuclear weapons have immense, uncontrollable destructive capabilities and are indiscriminate in nature.

It says past use and testing of these weapons have clearly shown their unacceptable humanitarian consequences.

The statement says that for the sake of humanity's survival nuclear weapons must never be used again, under any circumstances.

Similar statements have been released 3 times in the past, including one in April at a conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Until now Japan has not signed such documents. The government says the phrase rejecting the use of nuclear arms "under any circumstances" is incompatible with the country's reliance on the US nuclear umbrella.

That attitude has come under fire, as Japan is the only country to have experienced atomic bombings.

But the government made an about-face, saying the overall aim of the statement now conforms to Japan's security policy and its disarmament efforts.

In the run-up to the release of the statement, Japanese officials lobbied New Zealand to revise some of its wording to make it more acceptable to Japan.

The document now expresses support for "all approaches and efforts" toward nuclear disarmament.

This strikes a balance between countries that want a treaty banning the use of atomic weapons, and those favoring a more gradual approach.

The latter camp includes nuclear powers such as the United States and countries like Japan and Australia that rely on nuclear deterrence.

Oct. 22, 2013

Japan for first time backs U.N. nuke disarmament statement




Japan on Monday endorsed a U.N. statement on nuclear disarmament for the first time, joining more than 120 other countries in issuing a statement expressing deep concern about the “catastrophic consequences” of atomic weapons and opposing their use.

After declining to back similar statements three times in the past, the government decided to endorse a New Zealand-led initiative that drew a record 125 supporting countries, roughly two-thirds of the 193 member states of the United Nations.

Previously, Japan deemed similar statements as incompatible with its security policy due to its reliance on the nuclear deterrence provided by the United States.

New Zealand Ambassador Dell Higgie said “some changes” had been made to the text “at Japan’s request, which has facilitated their involvement.” Unlike last year’s, this year’s text did not mention the “outlawing” of nuclear arsenals. Higgie downplayed Tokyo’s previous opposition to the statements.


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