Japan: Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace calls on Japanese government to lead the way in abolishing nuclear weapons
8/3/18 - In January, the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace, Pax Christi International's member organisation in Japan, sent a request to the Japanese government calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The letter specifies Japan's unique history with nuclear weapons and urges that Japan take the lead in encouraging nations to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted at the UN with the approval of 122 countries. The letter was addressed to the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe.
The full letter is below.
The Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace calls upon the Government of Japan to realize the abolition of nuclear weapons through the following steps:
- As the only country to have suffered atomic warfare, to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and take the lead in initiatives for the abolition of nuclear weapons in the world.
- To present amendments to the nuclear abolition resolution submitted to the UN General Assembly to clearly forbid nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence theory.
- To conduct long-term diplomacy to stop the chain of intimidation and nuclear development that increases tensions in Northeast Asia.
In 2017, public opinion favoring nuclear disarmament rose worldwide. On July 7, the first-ever treaty banning the use of nuclear weapons, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, was adopted by the United Nations with the approval of 122 countries and was opened to signatures on September 20. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In the Catholic Church, the Holy See invited about 300 people including representatives of international organizations, Nobel Peace laureates, government officials and academics to an international symposium on “Prospects for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament.” From Japan, Masako Wada, a survivor of the Nagasaki bombing, made a statement that received unanimous applause. Pope Francis rejected the very possession of nuclear weapons, saying, “If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned.”
In January 2018, Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, came to Japan, and visited the bombed cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima as well as Tokyo. She appealed that the nuclear powers and those under the nuclear umbrella, Japan in particular as the nation which has suffered atomic bombings, must sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and make efforts toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. These are the first steps toward nuclear abolition.
However, Japan, which should take the initiative and responsibility to appeal to the world for a ban on nuclear weapons, refused to sign the treaty. In October 2017, “any” was deleted from the text of a message that Japan had submitted for 20 years that had said “any use of nuclear weapons” should be prohibited out of deep concern for their “catastrophic humanitarian consequences.” The content was changed to allow nuclear possession and the policy of nuclear deterrence. This significantly reduced the number of votes for the resolution. Moreover, Prime Minister Abe did not accept an offer by Director Beatrice Fihn to meet during her visit to Japan.
The Japanese Constitution declares in its preamble that “We desire to occupy an honored place in an international society striving for the preservation of peace, and the banishment of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance for all time from the earth”. Pope Francis also said at the International Symposium in the Vatican mentioned above, “International relations cannot be held captive to military force, mutual intimidation, and the parading of stockpiles of arms. Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security.”
The Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace petitions that the Japanese government not increase tensions in today’s world, but will rather contribute to building peace by leading the movement toward the abolition of nuclear weapons, so that we may “occupy an honored place in an international society.”
January 25, 2018
Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace
Bishop Taiji Katsuya, Chairman