1 Avril 2017
March 29, 2017
March 27, 2017
Japan has decided not to attend the first round of UN talks on a nuclear weapons ban -- and a Japanese atomic bomb survivor had some harsh words for his country's stance.
"Japan is doing the opposite of what we survivors expect it to do as the only nation having experienced atomic bombings," says Toshiki Fujimori, who is with the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations.
Nuclear powers have boycotted the discussions. The aim of the proposed treaty will be to oppose nuclear weapons on the grounds that they violate international law.
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley says no one believes North Korea would agree to a ban.
"Today, when you see those walking into the General Assembly to create a nuclear weapons ban, you have to ask yourself, are they looking out for their people? Do they really understand the threats that we have?" Haley says.
The outlook for full disarmament has dimmed, with US President Donald Trump saying if other countries maintain nuclear arsenals, so will America.
Survivor Urges Action
As the UN talks continue, one "hibakusha," or atomic bomb survivor in Japan, is adding her voice to the call for a world free of nuclear weapons.
Keiko Ogura was just 8-years-old when the US dropped an atomic bomb on her city of Hiroshima. She's now 79, and the leader of a group who shares similar experiences.
At New York University, she recounted a tale of junior high school students who died in the bombing.
"This is the fact. So I would like to say you that please see the fact," Ogura says.
Ogura and the students discussed why some people defend the US atomic bombings on Japan.
"You have met with the grandson of the pilot who dropped the bomb. How do you view forgiveness as a survivor?" she was asked.
"We have to work together, because nowadays, it's not 'you're enemy, I'm victim of bomb', no, it's not such an age, you know," Ogura replied.
Doctor Robert Jay Lifton, a psychiatrist who interviewed survivors like Ogura in the 1960s, also took part in the session.
"The story of Hiroshima is one plane, one bomb, one city. That's why we have to listen to her," Lifton says.
Ogura also visited the UN headquarters -- the place for negotiations on a nuclear weapons ban treaty. Non-nuclear powers proposed a resolution to start the talks.
"The biggest challenge is to abolish nuclear weapons. We should not say it's OK to possess them as long as they're not used. I believe it's important to reflect upon the horror once again and bear in mind how important the upcoming negotiations are," Ogura says.
She and other survivors are pinning their hopes on the negotiations. Another round of talks will be held this summer. The final report will be submitted to the UN General Assembly in the fall.
The Japanese government can no longer be persuasive when it talks about "leading the world toward the abolition of nuclear weapons" as the only nation to have suffered atomic bombing.
By abandoning its self-appointed role as a "bridge" between the nuclear powers and non-nuclear nations, the government has betrayed not only hibakusha in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but many citizens as well.
At the outset of new negotiations at the United Nations to establish a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, the Japanese delegation announced it would not take part in the talks.
More than 100 non-nuclear nations are taking part, while established nuclear powers such as the United States, Russia and China—along with North Korea--are boycotting the talks.
The purpose of the discussions is to legally ban the use and possession of nuclear weapons on grounds of their "inhumanity." Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida explained that the talks "could prove counterproductive as they would deepen the rift between the nuclear powers and non-nuclear powers."
We simply cannot comprehend Kishida's thinking.
Japan, the world's sole victim of atomic warfare, is also protected by the U.S. nuclear umbrella. It has always taken on the role of a bridge between the nuclear powers and non-nuclear nations.
Now more than ever, Japan needs to live up to that role, given the deepening rift.
To declare non-participation by falling in step with the nuclear powers is nothing short of blatant dereliction of duty.
The nuclear powers are vehemently opposed to a nuclear ban treaty, which they view as a threat to their security policies based on nuclear deterrence.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations held a joint news conference with the representatives of about 20 nations to protest the treaty outside the conference hall. In doing so, the naysayers seemed to emphasize the necessity of such a treaty.
The leaders of the nuclear powers must first appreciate the inhumanity of nuclear weapons. None of these countries has denied the possibility of using nuclear weapons if circumstances require it. But once the treaty comes into force, the use of nuclear weapons will become an international crime.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who champions beefing up America's nuclear arsenal, said last month, "If countries are going to have nukes, we're going to be at the top of the pack."
North Korea continues its provocations with its nuclear and missile development programs.
But if the nuclear ban treaty clearly spells out that nuclear weapons must not be used, it should serve as a powerful brake on these moves.
Kishida cited the severity of the security environment around Japan as another reason for sitting out the negotiations. In addition to the threat posed by Pyongyang, China is engaged in seemingly unstoppable military expansion. There is a strong sense within the Japanese government that the nuclear ban treaty would undermine the U.S. nuclear umbrella and is, therefore, not desirable.
True, nuclear disarmament must be pursued carefully so as not to erode regional stability. But precisely for this reason, Japan ought to have chosen to participate in the talks and offered ideas on a treaty that will be acceptable to more countries--for example, by allowing countries to postpone moving out of a nuclear umbrella.
Austria, Mexico and other non-nuclear powers intend to compile a draft treaty by July.
It is still not too late for Japan to change its mind. Japan must join the negotiations immediately.
NEW YORK (Kyodo) -- A Japanese atomic bomb survivor and an Aboriginal Australian who lived through multiple nuclear tests slammed their respective governments Tuesday for not participating in U.N. negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.
"I especially condemn the Japanese government's inability to fully commit to these negotiations," said Setsuko Thurlow, who lived through the atomic bomb blast on Aug. 6, 1945, that destroyed her hometown of Hiroshima.
"Indeed, yesterday morning the Japanese government official's speech deepened hibakusha's feelings of being continuously betrayed and abandoned by their own country," she said in her speech during a session of the negotiations, referring to the Japanese terms used for the atomic bomb survivors.
Thurlow referenced remarks made Monday by Japan's disarmament ambassador Nobushige Takamizawa, who explained that Tokyo would not take part in the talks that got under way at U.N. headquarters on Monday.
Although Japan has said it wants a nuclear-weapon-free world, it had been vague in the lead-up to the conference about whether it would join the U.N. talks, reflecting its reliance on the U.S. nuclear deterrent for protection.
"Instead, they (the Japanese government) should take an independent position, which responds to the will of the Japanese people," Thurlow stated.
The five nuclear weapon states -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- which are also permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, have abstained from the conference, which aims to hammer out a landmark treaty that would outlaw nuclear weapons for the first time ever.
Thurlow called on the approximately 115 countries that are participating in the conference "to establish a clear new international standard to declare in no uncertain terms that nuclear weapons are illegitimate, immoral and illegal."
Speaking after Thurlow was Sue Coleman Haseldine, who described how as a small child she was impacted by the nuclear weapons testing that the British secretly carried out in the remote area of Maralinga beginning in the 1950s, which greatly impacted her and her family.
In addition to high incidence of cancer in that area, there are currently efforts under way to set up nuclear waste dump sites which pose more hazards to her community.
"Together we need to connect the past, present and future and work towards a treaty to ban all nuclear weapons so there will be no new victims under a mushroom cloud," she said in her speech. "The treaty should acknowledge the permanent damage done to people, land and culture across generations and particularly for indigenous people worldwide."
"I am actually ashamed of (the Australian government)" for not attending the conference, she told Kyodo News. She stressed the government had a moral responsibility to participate in light of the testing, adding that her country is a producer of uranium used for atomic bombs.
Australia, like Japan, operates under the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
Meanwhile, Mexico's Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Jorge Lomonaco, whose country -- along with Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Nigeria and South Africa -- has led the treaty efforts, said the survivors' remarks were invaluable to the conference.
"It was incredibly moving and a very important reminder of why we are here," he told Kyodo News. "We are here for them and because of them and we owe it to them."
Canadian Member of Parliament, Linda Duncan, who was attending the conference as a co-chair of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Disarmament, was particularly struck by Thurlow's speech.
"I think it is pretty clear that the most powerful voice we have heard over these two days is hers," she said.
Duncan also expressed disappointment in her country for not participating and said she has asked Thurlow, who lives in Canada, to meet with interested politicians in the near future.
The first session of the negotiations ends Friday and a second segment will again be held in New York beginning in mid-June with the hope that a treaty will be hammered out by July.