Japan

Nuclear-weapon endorser

Has not yet joined the TPNW

Summary

Japan has not yet signed or ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

It supports the retention and potential use of US nuclear weapons on its behalf, as indicated in various policy statements, including the country’s national security strategy of 2013, which states that “the extended deterrence of the US, with nuclear deterrence at its core, is indispensable [to Japan]”.

 

Nuclear bombings

Japan is the only country to have suffered the wartime use of nuclear weapons. In the final days of World War II, the United States detonated two atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 200,000 people instantly or within a few months of the attacks.

Many thousands more have died in the years following the attacks from illnesses caused by their exposure to radiation from the bombs. Almost all of the victims were civilians.

Residents of Hiroshima hold a vigil in June 2017 as treaty negotiations resume at the United Nations in New York. Photo: HANWA

 

National position

Japan has consistently voted against an annual UN General Assembly resolution since 2018 that welcomes the adoption of the treaty and calls upon all states to sign, ratify, or accede to it “at the earliest possible date”.

The government has indicated that it does not intend to sign or ratify the treaty, despite significant public pressure on it to do so.

 

Political developments

In October 2020, the Komeito political party, which forms part of the coalition government, submitted an “urgent proposal” to the minister of foreign affairs, Toshimitsu Motegi, encouraging the government to reassess its position on the treaty and to participate as an observer in the first meeting of states parties, to be held within 12 months of the treaty’s entry into force on 22 January 2021.

The government responded that it had not yet reached a decision on whether to participate in the meeting and would wait to receive further details.

The former Japanese prime minister Hatoyama Yukio, former foreign minister Tanaka Makiko, and former defence minister Tanaka Naoki signed an open letter in September 2020 calling on current leaders to “show courage and boldness – and join the treaty”.

Hibakusha and campaigners meet with foreign ministry officials and parliamentarians in Tokyo in January 2021 as the treaty enters into force. Photo: ICAN

 

Public opinion

An academic survey conducted in 2019 found that 75 per cent of Japanese people believe that their country should join the treaty, with only 17.7 per cent of opposed and 7.3 per cent undecided. It also found that the government’s arguments against joining the treaty have little effect on public opinion.

A separate poll conducted by Japan’s national broadcaster, NHK, in 2019 found that 66 per cent of Japanese people believe that their country should join the treaty, with 17 per cent opposed to joining and the remainder undecided.

The Japanese government’s unwillingness to date to support the treaty has angered many of the remaining survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, known as hibakusha, who have said that they feel betrayed by the government.

Many Japanese cities, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki, have called on the Japanese government to sign and ratify the treaty.

The mayor of Nagasaki, Tomihisa Taue, said in August 2017, at a ceremony to mark the atomic bombing of his city, that the adoption of the treaty a month earlier “was a moment when all the efforts of the hibakusha over the years finally took shape”.

In August 2019, on the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the mayor of that city, Kazumi Matsui, called on “the government of the only country to experience a nuclear weapon in war to accede to the hibakusha’s request that the [treaty] be signed and ratified”.

 

Treaty negotiations

Japan did not formally participate in the negotiation of the treaty at the United Nations in New York in 2017 and thus did not vote on its adoption. However, it attended the opening session of the negotiations to explain its decision not to participate. It said that “it would be difficult for Japan to participate in this conference in a constructive manner and in good faith”.

In 2016, Japan voted against the UN General Assembly resolution that established the formal mandate for states to commence negotiations on “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

Many media outlets and civil society groups in Japan criticised the government for opposing the negotiations. The Japan Times, for example, argued that the decision “contradicts the nation’s long-standing call for the elimination of [nuclear] weapons as the sole country to have suffered nuclear attacks”.

In February 2017, a month before the commencement of the treaty negotiations at the United Nations, the US president, Donald Trump, and the then-prime minister of Japan, Abe Shinzō, issued a joint statement declaring that “[t]he US commitment to defend Japan through the full range of US military capabilities, both nuclear and conventional, is unwavering”.

Kazumi Matsui, the mayor of Hiroshima, speaks to reporters at the United Nations in New York in June 2017 during the treaty negotiations. Photo: ICAN

Setsuko Thurlow, an ICAN campaigner and atomic bomb survivor, applauds the adoption of the treaty by 122 states on 7 July 2017. Photo: ICAN

Nuclear-weapon endorser

Has not yet joined the TPNW

[HIGHLIGHTS]

Summary

Japan has not yet signed or ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

It supports the retention and potential use of US nuclear weapons on its behalf, as indicated in various policy statements, including the country’s national security strategy of 2013, which states that “the extended deterrence of the US, with nuclear deterrence at its core, is indispensable [to Japan]”.

 

Nuclear bombings

Japan is the only country to have suffered the wartime use of nuclear weapons. In the final days of World War II, the United States detonated two atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 200,000 people instantly or within a few months of the attacks.

Many thousands more have died in the years following the attacks from illnesses caused by their exposure to radiation from the bombs. Almost all of the victims were civilians.

Residents of Hiroshima hold a vigil in June 2017 as treaty negotiations resume at the United Nations in New York. Photo: HANWA

 

National position

Japan has consistently voted against an annual UN General Assembly resolution since 2018 that welcomes the adoption of the treaty and calls upon all states to sign, ratify, or accede to it “at the earliest possible date”.

The government has indicated that it does not intend to sign or ratify the treaty, despite significant public pressure on it to do so.

 

Political developments

In October 2020, the Komeito political party, which forms part of the coalition government, submitted an “urgent proposal” to the minister of foreign affairs, Toshimitsu Motegi, encouraging the government to reassess its position on the treaty and to participate as an observer in the first meeting of states parties, to be held within 12 months of the treaty’s entry into force on 22 January 2021.

The government responded that it had not yet reached a decision on whether to participate in the meeting and would wait to receive further details.

The former Japanese prime minister Hatoyama Yukio, former foreign minister Tanaka Makiko, and former defence minister Tanaka Naoki signed an open letter in September 2020 calling on current leaders to “show courage and boldness – and join the treaty”.

Hibakusha and campaigners meet with foreign ministry officials and parliamentarians in Tokyo in January 2021 as the treaty enters into force. Photo: ICAN

 

Public opinion

An academic survey conducted in 2019 found that 75 per cent of Japanese people believe that their country should join the treaty, with only 17.7 per cent of opposed and 7.3 per cent undecided. It also found that the government’s arguments against joining the treaty have little effect on public opinion.

A separate poll conducted by Japan’s national broadcaster, NHK, in 2019 found that 66 per cent of Japanese people believe that their country should join the treaty, with 17 per cent opposed to joining and the remainder undecided.

The Japanese government’s unwillingness to date to support the treaty has angered many of the remaining survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, known as hibakusha, who have said that they feel betrayed by the government.

Many Japanese cities, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki, have called on the Japanese government to sign and ratify the treaty.

The mayor of Nagasaki, Tomihisa Taue, said in August 2017, at a ceremony to mark the atomic bombing of his city, that the adoption of the treaty a month earlier “was a moment when all the efforts of the hibakusha over the years finally took shape”.

In August 2019, on the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the mayor of that city, Kazumi Matsui, called on “the government of the only country to experience a nuclear weapon in war to accede to the hibakusha’s request that the [treaty] be signed and ratified”.

 

Treaty negotiations

Japan did not formally participate in the negotiation of the treaty at the United Nations in New York in 2017 and thus did not vote on its adoption. However, it attended the opening session of the negotiations to explain its decision not to participate. It said that “it would be difficult for Japan to participate in this conference in a constructive manner and in good faith”.

In 2016, Japan voted against the UN General Assembly resolution that established the formal mandate for states to commence negotiations on “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

Many media outlets and civil society groups in Japan criticised the government for opposing the negotiations. The Japan Times, for example, argued that the decision “contradicts the nation’s long-standing call for the elimination of [nuclear] weapons as the sole country to have suffered nuclear attacks”.

In February 2017, a month before the commencement of the treaty negotiations at the United Nations, the US president, Donald Trump, and the then-prime minister of Japan, Abe Shinzō, issued a joint statement declaring that “[t]he US commitment to defend Japan through the full range of US military capabilities, both nuclear and conventional, is unwavering”.

Kazumi Matsui, the mayor of Hiroshima, speaks to reporters at the United Nations in New York in June 2017 during the treaty negotiations. Photo: ICAN

Setsuko Thurlow, an ICAN campaigner and atomic bomb survivor, applauds the adoption of the treaty by 122 states on 7 July 2017. Photo: ICAN

[PARTNERS]

Peace Mask Project

website


Human Rights Now

website


Japanese for Peace

Japanese Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War 

website


Palsystem

website


Peace Boat

website


Physicians Against Nuclear War (Japan)

website


Project Now

website


World Friendship Center

website


KAKUWAKA Hiroshima

website


ANT-Hiroshima

website


Maruki Gallery for the Hiroshima Panels

website

[LOCALSUPPORT]

PARLIAMENTARY PLEDGE

HOUSE OF COUNCILORS

Takashi Esaki
Satoshi Inoue
Michihiro Ishibashi
Noriko Ishigaki
Makiko Kishi
Seishi Kumano
Shinji Morimoto
Takashi Moriya
Masahito Ozawa
Yoshitaka Saito
Ayaka Shiomura
Tetsumi Takara
Eri Tokunaga
Sakura Uchikoshi
Nobuo Yasue
Takanori Yokosawa
Shinichi Yokoyama

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Shunsuke Mutai
Masataka Ota
Mitsu Shimojo
Michiyo Takagi
Minoru Terada
Katsuhiko Yokomitsu

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PARLIAMENTARY PLEDGE

HOUSE OF COUNCILORS

Takashi Esaki
Satoshi Inoue
Michihiro Ishibashi
Noriko Ishigaki
Makiko Kishi
Seishi Kumano
Shinji Morimoto
Takashi Moriya
Masahito Ozawa
Yoshitaka Saito
Ayaka Shiomura
Tetsumi Takara
Eri Tokunaga
Sakura Uchikoshi
Nobuo Yasue
Takanori Yokosawa
Shinichi Yokoyama

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Shunsuke Mutai
Masataka Ota
Mitsu Shimojo
Michiyo Takagi
Minoru Terada
Katsuhiko Yokomitsu

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