For the first time, Japan is to sign a joint UN statement on nuclear weapons

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Japan, the only nation that has experienced the devastation of atomic bombings, is to sign a joint statement by the United Nations – and Civilisation 3000 readers will join many in welcoming this.

But is it a ‘non-use treaty’ or does it also call for abolition?

Japan had abstained from voting on such statements since1995 believing that this would conflict with its reliance on the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

However, the Japanese government announced its intention to sign the joint statement expected from the U.N. General Assembly First Committee, on Oct.11th.  It has been supported by Switzerland, New Zealand and 14 other countries and is said to call for the elimination of nuclear weapons, which could create a humanitarian catastrophe.

Photo by Rebecca Johnson: Civil Society Demo at Japan's UN Mission in Geneva, 24.4.2013

Photo by Rebecca Johnson: Civil Society Demo at Japan’s UN Mission in Geneva, 24.4.2013

Japan’s position is said to have changed after the citizens and mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which were devastated by atomic bombs near the end of World War II strongly criticised Japan’s refusal to sign.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the Foreign Ministry to work with relevant nations over the forthcoming joint statement. Kyodo News International reports Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida’s words that the joint statement to be issued at the United Nations will call on countries not to use nuclear weapons:

“After examining the purpose of the statement as a whole, we concluded we can support the content,” Kishida said at a press conference. “It’s a moral responsibility for Japan to make a strenuous effort to realize a nuclear-free world.”

Was one sentence in the statement a sticking point for Japan?

“The only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again is through their total elimination.”

 un statement npt 2013

At the NPT prepcom in Geneva, on 24th April 2013, the South African ambassador to the UN presented the statement on behalf of 74 states highlighting the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.  Switzerland’s Pressenza published the statement in full.

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 Has that sentence been retained?

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