Redefine Japan-U.S. Alliance for Denuclearization


Nuclear Abolition News | IDN

By Masayoshi Hamada*
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

TOKYO (IDN) – Japan is serving in the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council in April, ahead of the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons scheduled for May 2010.

Amidst growing momentum toward a world free of nuclear weapons I believe Japan has the moral responsibility to spread word about the harrowing effect of nuclear weapons as the only sufferer of nuclear attacks, and exercise leadership in finding a fundamental solution to the issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, which has undermined the global trend toward nuclear disarmament.



As the world's only sufferer of nuclear attacks, Japan must tell the rest of the world about the agonizing and harrowing effect of nuclear attacks, incomparable to any other form of weaponry, the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons, and the need to establish an international code of morality that nuclear weapons are nothing but absolute evil, so as to ensure human security.


Nuclear disarmament cannot be achieved by merely wiping away all existing nuclear weapons, because the human race has already acquired the knowledge to produce them. In order to achieve "irreversible" nuclear disarmament, it is essential to establish an international code of morality on the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons, substantiated by the notion that they are an absolute evil.

Is it possible to establish an international sense of morality that would even convince fundamentalist terrorism organizations to stay away from developing nuclear arms? The only possible answer would be to make people "feel with their heart", rather than "understand in their head", the harrowing truth about nuclear weapons. Achieving this is our nation's moral responsibility as the sole sufferer of atomic bombings. Such a campaign can be carried out through the process of advocating and expanding the signatories to the Nuclear Weapons Convention.

Some diplomats may question the effectiveness of having countries that have no nuclear weapons, rather than nuclear powers, sign the Nuclear Weapons Convention. Yet the Model Nuclear Weapons Convention (revised version), submitted to the United Nations by Costa Rica in 2007, defines not only state responsibilities, but those of individual persons, regardless of nationality.

It should be noted that the signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (Oslo Process), which the New Komeito Party lobbied the Japanese government to sign, may have just 10 of all cluster munitions around the world, but that the Convention has effectively denied some countries the possibility of acquiring cluster munitions in the future.

What's more, the establishment of the "international code" has provided a major driving force for initiating debates on the inclusion of cluster munitions ban in the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which would cover countries that have not signed the cluster munitions convention, such as the United States, China, Russia and India.

Of equal importance is the mechanism for preventing countries from becoming isolated.

Campaigns for nuclear disarmament must be accompanied with economic assistance, cultural exchange and other measures to eliminate propagators of negativity, such as poverty and discrimination, so as to achieve human security.


The international community has expressed concerns that North Korea and Iran may dampen the global trend for a nuclear weapons-free world. Yet, many western nations tend to place priority on dealing with Iran. As a fellow nation in East Asia, Japan should exercise leadership in addressing the issue of nuclear weapons development in North Korea.

Why does North Korea pursue nuclear arms development? That is because it sees the U.S. nuclear capacity, which has been present for the last 50 years, as a major threat. Even after the removal of nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991, the U.S. military has continued to carry out drills involving long-range missiles, designed to target North Korea.

In the Six-Party Talks joint statement issued in September 2005, the United States affirmed that it has no intention to attack or invade the DPRK with nuclear or conventional weapons. Yet, the CONPLAN 8022 contingency plan, drawn up in 2003 under the Bush administration, refers to pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons on Iran as well as North Korea. It should be noted that the plan has not been cancelled, even after 2005.

Even in Japan, people arguing against nuclear disarmament cite the "nuclear deterrent" as an option for countering the threat of nuclear attacks from North Korea. However, what we must aim for is to convince North Korea to withdraw the weapons programme, thus keep it as a nuclear-free state, rather than driving it to become a nuclear power, then trying to convince it not to use the capability.

Even if North Korea does not succeed in developing nuclear arms, continuation of the nuclear program will maintain concerns over the proliferation of weapons technology. In order to achieve global nuclear disarmament, it is essential to achieve the cancellation of their nuclear program at an early stage.

Furthermore, North Korea would pose an immeasurable threat once it becomes a nuclear power. Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger wrote in his book 'Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy' that "...a power possessing thermonuclear weapons is not likely to accept unconditional surrender without employing them...."

Meanwhile, North Korea has recently sent renewed signals of its readiness to move toward resolving the nuclear development issue. Firstly, in the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue conference convened in California in October 2009, the attending foreign affairs official from North Korea reportedly delivered a powerful message that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula requires not only the resolution of North Korea's nuclear development programme, but also further progress in the relationships between North and South Korea, and between Japan and North Korea. On January 11, 2010, North Korea's foreign affairs spokesperson officially proposed talks with the United States to work toward a peace treaty.

As long as North Korea presses ahead with its nuclear program, lifting sanctions against the country is out of the question. However, it may be possible to discuss the U.S.-DPRK peace treaty under the Six-Party Talks' working group on a Northeast Asia peace and security mechanism.

It would seek the denuclearization of Northeast Asia parallel to the process of persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear development programme, In fact, I am convinced that exercising leadership in such negotiations would firmly set the tide toward fundamentally resolving the deadlock in the Six-Party Talks and building a "nuclear weapons-free world".


The International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND), initiated by the Japanese and Australian governments, released a report in Tokyo in December 2009. The highlight of the report detailing the Commission's action agenda was the reference to the "sole purpose" declaration, which represents a declaration by nuclear-possessing states that the sole purpose of retaining the nuclear weapons they have is to deter others from using such weapons against them.

This is much more than a simple "declaration". Expectations are high that the declaration could be the first step toward actualizing denuclearization, by providing a philosophical foundation for drastic nuclear arms reduction, and leading to the cancellation of the emergency deployment of nuclear weapons. This would significantly mitigate the risk of incidental nuclear attacks.

A debate on the need for nuclear deterrent based on the presence of specific threat to Japan holds the key to determining whether Japan should accept the Sole Purpose declaration.

It is the view of the United States that it does not need to use nuclear weapons as deterrent against the anticipated use of biological and chemical weapons, which is the primary threat from North Korea.

The United States maintains that the threat of retaliation with conventional weapons is a sufficient deterrent for North Korea's use of biological and chemical weapons on Japan, as stated by former Defence Secretary William Perry in October 2009 and by assistant Defence Secretary Wallace Gregson in February 2010.

The U.S. National Science Foundation has maintained that:

1. The use of nuclear deterrents against the threat of biological / chemical weapons would facilitate the ease of nuclear proliferation;

2. The treaties for banning the use of biological / chemical weapons should be tightened to control such weapons;

3. Such a threat can be controlled with international pressure including pressure from the United Nations; and

4. Conventional weapons of the United States are more reliable than the use of nuclear deterrents.

In fact, informed sources say that the United States did not have the option of using a nuclear weapon against Iraq's use of chemical weapons during the Gulf War in 1991.

Among the five nuclear-armed states, China is the only country that has made a no-first-use declaration. Therefore, China's anticipated threat to other countries comes from its overwhelming stockpile of conventional weapons.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger asserted in his book ('Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy', Harper & Brothers - 1957, p.I67) that the United States would not use a nuclear deterrent against a nuclear power that has intercontinental ballistic missiles, saying that the U.S. President would not offer 50 U.S. cities in exchange for West Europe.

Former director general of the Foreign Ministry's International Information Bureau, Ukeru Magosaki points out that the greatest deterrent would be achieved through deepening mutual economic and cultural dependence with China.

China relies on the supply of quality components and materials from Japan in achieving the world's largest trade surplus. Magosaki insists that China would exercise restraint as any disruption to the supply would cause confusion to its economy.

During the Soviet days, Russia held an overwhelmingly large arsenal of conventional weapons, and made a "no-first-use" claim about its nuclear weapons. However, the claim was withdrawn in 1993. The country's new military doctrine, released on February 5, 2010, clearly states its right to the first use of nuclear weapons.

If the U.S. nuclear umbrella is not an effective deterrent to other nuclear powers, as warned by Kissinger, then the threat of Russia's first use of nuclear weapons can be most effectively countered by creating a tide of international support for "Sole Purpose declaration" and "no-first-use declaration".

*Masayoshi Hamada is a member of the House of Councillors, Chairman of New Komeito Party's Denuclearization Promotion Committee, and a member of the Peace Studies Association of Japan. (IDN-InDepthNews/14.04.2010)

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