Japan will not join an initiative led by 16 countries at the United Nations to make atomic weapons illegal, out of concern it would affect Tokyo’s security arrangement under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, government sources said Thursday.
The 16 nations drafted a statement for submission to the First Committee of the U.N. General Assembly that calls on all states to “intensify their efforts to outlaw nuclear weapons and achieve a world free of nuclear weapons,” and asked Japan to endorse it earlier this week.
The 16 countries include Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Holy See, Egypt, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa and Switzerland.
Japan, the only country to have ever come under nuclear attack, isn’t backing the initiative because the delegitimizing of atomic weapons would contradict its reliance on the extended U.S. nuclear deterrence, the sources said.
The National Defense Program Guidelines, which were last updated in 2010, say that “as long as nuclear weapons exist, the extended deterrence provided by the United States, with nuclear deterrent as a vital element, will be indispensable.”
In the draft joint statement on the humanitarian dimension of nuclear disarmament, a copy of which was obtained by Kyodo News, the 16 countries said they are “deeply concerned about the humanitarian consequences that any use of nuclear weapons would have.”
Referring to “the horrific consequences” of the use of nuclear arsenals, made clear by the suffering caused by the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the 16-nation group said the only way to guarantee that such weapons are never used again is “the total, irreversible and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons.”
As members of NATO, Norway and Denmark are also under the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
At a preparatory committee meeting in Vienna for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference this spring, the 16 nations issued a similar statement. But they did not request Japan’s support for the document at that time, according to the sources.
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