On Monday the Japanese government stated that it would not agree to join an initiative with 16 other countries from the U.N. to work towards outlawing nuclear weapons worldwide. The reason given was because it would not align with Japan’s security alliance with the United States. The refusal to join such a plan comes as a surprise, as Japan, the only nation to have ever had a nuclear weapon used against it, is usually seen as the forefront of the movement to end the world’s use of nuclear power.
The first statement of the initiative, including participation from nations like Switzerland and Norway, outlining the efforts to abolish nuclear weapons is set to be submitted to the U.N. General Assembly’s First Committee in New York City. Kazuya Shinba, Japan’s Senior Vice Foreign Minister, stated at a news conference that they will not be joining because the initiative is not consistent with Japan’s national security policy. Another Foreign Ministry official commented that in the arrangements made with the U.S. over security issues, it is necessary to have something that will discourage enemy actions, and that includes the use of nuclear weapons.
What this means is that Japan has to maintain the appearance of an ability to use nuclear weapons. If Japan was to officially commit to its refusal to use nuclear weapons, North Korea, for example, or China, would see the country as unable to truly retaliate in some kind of large-scale war. By declining to give up the ability to use nuclear weapons, they are telling any potentially hostile countries that they can defend themselves.
That doesn’t stop the refusal to outlaw nuclear weapons as seeming a bit contradictory, however. Local leaders from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two locations hit by the U.S.’s atomic bombs in World War II, along with the remaining survivors of those attacks, have campaigned around the world to bring an end to nuclear weapons and the use of nuclear power. Even Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda spoke at this year’s Nagasaki memorial, calling for a worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons. It’s a sad instance when something like a security alliance with another nation, or the necessity of keeping up aggressive appearances to the international community, result in the saying of one thing and doing another when it comes to nuclear weapons.[via Zee News]