(社説)被爆地と首相 逆行あり得ぬ非核への道

August 11, 2014
EDITORIAL: Japan must pursue a path to a nuclear-free world
(社説)被爆地と首相 逆行あり得ぬ非核への道

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki this month, both of which marked the 69th anniversaries of the atomic bombings. In the ceremonies in both cities, he emphasized determination to realize a world without nuclear weapons.

However, it seems that the gap between Abe and the cities that were struck by atomic bombs has increased since last year.

In a meeting with Abe in Hiroshima, 85-year-old hibakusha Yukio Yoshioka said, “(The Cabinet’s approval of the exercise of the right to collective self-defense) will make Japan a country that repeats its (past) mistake and can wage a war.”

Miyako Jodai, 75, who served as the representative of atomic bomb survivors in the ceremony in Nagasaki, said, “I want the government not to forget or deny the sufferings of atomic bomb survivors.”

They apparently demanded that Abe withdraw the Cabinet’s approval of the exercise of the right to collective self-defense.


There are also other causes of concern.

One is the exports of nuclear power generation infrastructure to emerging countries. Another is negotiations to conclude a nuclear power agreement with India, which has conducted nuclear tests without joining the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Both could lead to nuclear proliferation.

The Abe administration also plans to maintain the policy of removing plutonium from spent nuclear fuels and reusing it in nuclear power plants.

After the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture, the future of nuclear power generation remains unclear. In addition, Japan already holds stocks of more than 40 tons of plutonium whose use has yet to be decided. Anti-nuclear groups in Japan and abroad suspect that Japan has the intention of arming itself with nuclear weapons.

Why are the moves of the government of A-bombed Japan so different from the desires for anti-nuclear policies?

In cities that were devastated by the atomic bombs, Abe asked the people to understand the Cabinet’s approval of the exercise of the right to collective self-defense by repeatedly saying, “It is to protect the lives and livelihoods of the people.”

The government’s basic stance is as follows: China’s military power is conspicuously increasing. North Korea is not halting its nuclear and missile development. The security environment surrounding Japan is becoming harsher. Therefore, the series of policies is preparation for a variety of threats.


It is said that in Northeast Asia, nuclear deterrence is effective because some countries continued to possess nuclear
weapons even after the end of the Cold War. Therefore, the government’s policy of depending on the U.S. nuclear umbrella is unshakable.

If concerned countries only rely on nuclear weapons, however, the era of risking catastrophe by nuclear war will continue. China, Russia and North Korea will heighten their alarm against the strengthening of the Japan-U.S. alliance based on nuclear weapons. As a result, “the lives and the livelihoods of the people” will be endangered.

However, the Abe administration is taking no action to drastically minimize the role of nuclear weapons and positively reduce the risk of the nuclear age.

There are many cases that run counter to nuclear disarmament. One is the missile defense (MD) system, which is being jointly developed by Japan and the United States at present.

The United States puts expectations on Japan’s exercise of the right to collective self-defense on the grounds that the exercise will lead to the strengthening of the MD system. That is because the Abe administration says that it plans to make it possible for Japan to shoot down ballistic missiles targeting the U.S. mainland or warships under the interpretation of the Constitution.

Irrespective of whether it is technologically possible to shoot down the missiles, China and Russia are opposed to the strengthening of the MD system, saying that their nuclear deterrence will be weakened. China could also use the strengthening of the MD system as an excuse to increase its nuclear capabilities in order to break the defense network of Japan and the United States.

Abe also supports the possibility of the Self-Defense Forces sweeping for mines in the Strait of Hormuz. But the potential to do so could irritate Iran and adversely affect multinational talks to halt the country’s nuclear development. As a result, Japan could lose its influence on Iran.

It is important to take the threats seriously. But it is impossible to continue the vicious cycle of “power against power” forever. What policies will the Abe administration take to prevent the acceleration of nuclear power expansion and nuclear proliferation and stabilize the international society and Northeast Asia? The policies are unclear. Therefore, people in cities that were victimized by the atomic bombs are feeling anxiety.

It is Japan’s role to show a vision of steadily promoting arms control of the entire Northeast Asian region and stabilizing it.


In the Hiroshima Peace Declaration, Mayor Kazumi Matsui called for the establishment of “a new security system based on trust and dialogue.”

In the world, the Obama administration is losing its centripetal force, and its relations with Russia have cooled due to the Ukrainian situation. China’s maritime advances have intensified friction with neighboring countries. The road to the “new security system based on trust and dialogue” is steep. But is it just a dream?

The Nagasaki Peace Declaration this year again advocated an idea of establishing “nuclear-weapon-free zones.” In the proposal, Japan and the Korean Peninsula are denuclearized, and nuclear powers promise not to attack the areas with nuclear weapons.

The Japanese government is negative to the idea on the grounds that relations of trust, which serve as a prerequisite, do not exist in the areas partly because North Korea has repeatedly conducted nuclear tests. North Korea counters the view, saying that what is a threat is the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

Relations of trust will be established through dialogue. To realize the nuclear-weapon-free zones, Japan should first show its intentions to set up the zones and leave the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Then, it should urge the United States to accept the zones. After that, showing a joint goal, Japan should strongly urge North Korea to take part in the negotiations.

The improvement of relations with China is also indispensable. A council of experts from five countries in the Asia and Pacific region, including former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, asked Japan and China to hold a summit meeting in its proposal compiled in Hiroshima.

It is not easy to untangle a thread. Unless there is a dialogue, however, nothing will start.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 10

by kiyoshimat | 2014-08-13 07:33 | 英字新聞

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