10 Juillet 2017
July 8, 2017
N-weapons ban pact hailed, but Japan slammed for lack of role
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
A U.N. treaty to ban the use and possession of nuclear weapons was widely welcomed across Japan on July 8, but reaction was tinged with disappointment that the Japanese government played no role in the effort despite the nation's history of destruction by atomic bombs.
The document, called the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, was formally adopted July 7 at the United Nations headquarters in New York, almost 72 years after the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were leveled by atomic weapons as World War II drew to a close, killing tens of thousands of people.
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, in a statement as chairman of the Mayors for Peace group, said, “All countries, including not only nuclear powers but also non-nuclear nations, should welcome this agreement.”
Meeting reporters July 8, he said, “I intend to carry out my work from now on to ensure that the treaty has substance.”
Many people welcomed the treaty as epoch-making, but there was also disappointment that Japan itself was not involved in the negotiations.
Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue, in a statement, noted that more than 60 percent of the 193 U.N. member countries supported the treaty.
"I hope that the birth (of the treaty) will generate the huge momentum needed for the eradication of nuclear weapons,” he said, while expressing disappointment at the Japanese government's lack of participation in the negotiations.
"It is extremely lamentable as the representative of an A-bombed city,” Taue said. “We demand that the Japanese government take leadership in urging the nuclear powers to pursue nuclear disarmament.”
The Japanese government is placed in a difficult position on this issue as it relies heavily on the U.S. nuclear umbrella to help shield it from outside aggression.
Sunao Tsuboi, 92, head of an atomic bomb sufferers’ organization in Hiroshima Prefecture, also issued a statement, which read, “What atomic bomb sufferers have wished for so many long years has finally emerged in concrete form. But difficulties will still lie ahead until the contents of the treaty achieve the desired effect.”
The Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations took note of a passage in the treaty that acknowledges the suffering of hibakusha atomic bomb victims.
“It is really a great pleasure,” said the statement, which was released by the confederation in a news conference in Tokyo on July 8.
The statement went on to say that the confederation has sought the eradication of nuclear weapons since its establishment in 1956 and that its goal is now finally in sight.
It said that hibakusha will continue to bear witness to the horrors of nuclear destruction and work with citizens worldwide until all nuclear arsenals are eliminated.
In the news conference, Terumi Tanaka, who is 85 and a leading member of the confederation, noted that Japan and the nuclear powers, including the United States, did not participate in the negotiations for the treaty.
“It is lamentable and frustrating. I want to get the message across to a wider audience among citizens of the nuclear powers that we don’t need nuclear weapons," said Tanaka, who survived the Aug. 9, 1945, atomic bombing of Nagasaki, three days after Hiroshima was targeted.
(Gen Okamoto contributed to this article.)