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Japan admits the obvious

April 25, 2013
Protest outside Japanese Mission in Geneva. (NHK World screenshot)

Protest outside Japanese Mission in Geneva. (NHK World screenshot)

When some 50 protesters gathered outside the Japanese Mission to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva yesterday, questioning that country’s refusal to sign onto a joint statement on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons submitted to the NPT PrepCom by 74 other non-nuclear-weapon states, Ambassador Mari Amano felt obliged to give an answer. Why, after all, would the only country ever to have felt the full effects of atomic bombings find it difficult to condemn their existence on humanitarian grounds and join an appeal for their total elimination?

The statement says the use of nuclear weapons must be prevented “under any circumstances.” That wording, Ambassador Mori explained to NHK TV, conflicts with Japan’s national security policy, specifically its extended nuclear deterrence agreement with the United States. He elaborated that in a conflict, the US could use nuclear weapons to “defend” Japan. So in some circumstances…

At least he was honest.

So here’s what this means: By entering into an agreement with a nuclear-armed state that its weapons are, in effect, yours by proxy, and that they can be used on your behalf (in fact, you expect that to be so), you lose not only your moral standing to condemn nuclear weapons along with most of the rest of the world, but also your political capacity to join others in an unfolding process that could lead to their abolition. In other words, you become unable to provide for your own and everyone else’s security in the most meaningful way possible, while leaving your people vulnerable to annihilation by weapons you neither possess nor control. Sweet deal!

For countries such as Australia and the Republic of Korea, which also live under the threat of extended deterrence and also declined to sign the joint statement, this simply illustrates the corrupting nature of nuclear politics. For Japan—the embodiment of all that is inhumane about nuclear weapons, the one country universally invoked as the moral center of the abolition movement, the home of the Hibakusha—the decision not to sign is tragic and inexcusable.

2 Comments
  1. Agyeno Ehase permalink
    May 4, 2013 11:16 am

    He who eats roasted yam with palm oil must expect his hands to be soiled… An Igbo adage that is very appropriate to Japan

  2. Asoka Hettiarachchi. permalink
    April 26, 2013 10:13 pm

    Amazing! What a incorrigible human behavior.

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