NEW YORK – Izumi Nakamitsu, the new U.N. undersecretary-general and high representative for disarmament affairs, said Thursday she will throw her full support behind negotiations to ban nuclear weapons. In an interview, Nakamitsu, 53, said she will pay official visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki this summer, if invited, with the aim of making an international appeal for disarmament from the atom-bombed Japanese cities. Nakamitsu, who assumed the new posts on Monday, gave her blessing to the view held by non-nuclear countries in favor of an international treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons that a disarmament accord would complement the regime of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. She also said it is "critically important" to make a success of an NPT review conference to be held in 2020. Unlike the U.N.-backed talks on a nuclear weapons ban treaty, which began in March, the NPT review process involves major nuclear powers. Nakamitsu said she hopes Japan, the only country in the world to have suffered nuclear attacks, will serve as a bridge between nuclear and non-nuclear nations.
NAGASAKI – As Nagasaki marked the 72nd anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing on Wednesday, Mayor Tomihisa Taue demanded that the Japanese government join a recently adopted treaty banning nuclear weapons. Taue's call for Japan's inclusion in the treaty, which was adopted by 122 United Nations members last month, followed an appeal on Sunday by the mayor of Hiroshima for the government to "bridge the gap" between nuclear and non-nuclear states to help achieve a ban on nuclear weapons. In Nagasaki's annual Peace Declaration at its memorial ceremony, Taue called the government's stance "incomprehensible" and pleaded for Japan to join the treaty along with nuclear weapons states plus other countries under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. The government's "stance of not even participating in the diplomatic negotiations for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is quite incomprehensible to those of us living in the cities that suffered atomic bombings," Taue said at the Peace Park. "As the only country in the world to have suffered wartime atomic bombings, I urge the Japanese government to reconsider the policy of relying on the nuclear umbrella and join the nuclear prohibition treaty at the earliest possible opportunity," he said.
HIROSHIMA – Hiroshima marked the 72nd anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing on Sunday at its annual memorial ceremony, with Mayor Kazumi Matsui calling on the Japanese government to help realize a treaty banning nuclear weapons. This year's ceremony at the Peace Memorial Park near ground zero follows the adoption by 122 United Nations members of the world's first treaty to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons. The pact's preamble uses the Japanese term hibakusha in its mention of "the unacceptable suffering" of survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings that killed an estimated 214,000 people by the end of 1945. But Japan, together with the world's nuclear weapon states and other countries under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, all refused to participate in the treaty. In the city's annual Peace Declaration, Matsui stopped short of demanding that Japan join the treaty, but urged the government to "manifest the pacifism in our Constitution by doing everything in its power to bridge the gap between the nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon states, thereby facilitating the ratification."
VIENNA – The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki called Friday for progress in discussions on nuclear disarmament within the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said he and Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue made the call when they met with Henk Cor van der Kwast, chairman of the NPT Preparatory Committee, on the sidelines of the committee's meeting in Vienna. "If the countries possessing nuclear weapons make strenuous efforts toward nuclear abolition, the number of countries wishing to possess nuclear weapons will decrease," Matsui said. Matsui also expressed hope that van der Kwast will play a leadership role in making progress toward nuclear disarmament. He quoted the chairman as saying in talks with the mayors that he would strive to help produce tangible results.