By The Yomiuri Shimbun
Asia News Network
Monday’s peace ceremony in Hiroshima was attended by representatives from about 85 nations, including Britain, France and Russia. In Nagasaki, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attended a ceremony for peace. His attendance as the UN chief follows a similar visit to Hiroshima by his predecessor, Ban Ki Moon, in 2010.
Last fiscal year, 390,000 foreign visitors went to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, a facility dedicated to conveying the tragedy inflicted by the atomic bomb. It is commendable that there has been growing interest in the sites of the atomic bombings, reflecting the momentum provided by an appeal for “a world without nuclear weapons” by then US president Barack Obama in Hiroshima two years ago.
It is important for more and more people to understand the significance of preventing nuclear war by understanding the realities of damage resulting from an atomic bombing.
Last year, Japan was exposed to a nuclear threat. North Korea conducted a nuclear test whose force compared with that of a hydrogen bomb, and it repeatedly test-fired missiles that flew over Japan.
In a summit meeting with the United States in June, Kim Jong-un, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, demonstrated a determination to achieve denuclearisation, and a crisis involving a possible military clash between the two countries receded.
However, this has hardly set a course for North Korea’s abandonment of nuclear weapons. It is indispensable to bring the North back to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and continue exerting pressure on the country until it completely denuclearises itself.
To help the administration of US President Donald Trump to strategically and tenaciously promote negotiations with the North, the Japanese government must do its utmost to assist the US government in cooperation with South Korea. It is also important to persuade China and Russia not to lift sanctions on the North.
The United States, Russia, Britain, France and China are allowed to possess nuclear weapons under the NPT pact; India and Pakistan armed themselves with nuclear weapons in the 1990s. Israel is believed to have possessed nuclear arms. North Korea has continued to advance its nuclear development program, repeatedly ignoring the resolutions adopted against it by the UN Security Council.
To pursue the ultimate ideal of nuclear abolition, an initial step that should be taken is to make sure North Korea abandons its nuclear weapons. Relevant nations, including the United States and international organisations are being tested over their resolve and capabilities.
As long as a nuclear threat against Japan continues, our nation has no choice but to accept the reality that it relies on the US deterrent power.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), adopted in July last year, bans the production, possession and use of nuclear weapons. Japan and some other nations are not party to the treaty, to say nothing of nuclear states. The harsh security environment facing the world is incompatible with the TPNW pact. There is every reason for the lack of progress in ratification.
With a view to seeking nuclear disarmament, Japan should serve as a bridge between nations with and without nuclear arms.