Statement by Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda
at the third U.N. Hiroshima Conference
on Disarmament Issues
17 July, 1996
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, it is my great honor to have this opportunity to speak to you on behalf of the Government of Japan at the opening of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues in Hiroshima. First of all, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the United Nations Secretariat as well as to all of those in Hiroshima Prefecture and Hiroshima City who have made great efforts to prepare for this Conference. At the same time, I would like to extend a hearty welcome to those who have come to Hiroshima from around the world to participate in this event.
This is the eighth time that Japan has hosted the United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues since 1989, and it is the third time to hold the Conference in Hiroshima. This conference is a unique opportunity to activate discussions on disarmament across national borders and, at the same time, to give the people of Japan an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the importance of disarmament. The theme for this Conference is "Common Efforts Towards a Safer, Nuclear-Weapon-Free World", and I think that it is very significant that so many specialists from Japan and from abroad have gathered to discuss this theme here in Hiroshima, where the people suffered terribly from the dire consequences of nuclear weapons some fifty years ago. Now allow me to share with you my views on nuclear disarmament.
(Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation)
Based upon our terrible experience of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, while firmly maintaining the Three Non-Nuclear Principles, Japan has sincerely been carrying out its obligations as stipulated in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and at the same time, we have been making great efforts for the promotion of global nuclear disarmament. This is based on our firm belief that it is extremely important to take realistic measures for nuclear disarmament on a step-by-step basis, aiming for a world free of nuclear weapons. Fortunately, the behavior of the international community after the Cold War, including the agreement reached between the United States of America and the Russian Federation over the reduction of nuclear arms, seems to be directing us towards the realization of a world without nuclear armaments.
One of the most important themes of nuclear disarmament is an early completion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The negotiations on the CTBT began at Conference on Disarmament in Geneva in January 1994, and the goal of completing them no later than 1996 was agreed upon in the "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament" which was adopted at the NPT Review and Extension Conference held in April-May last year. Moreover, in December 1995, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution by consensus calling for the promotion of the CTBT negotiations so as to enable its signature by the outset of the 51st session of the General Assembly which is scheduled to be held this coming September.
In light of these circumstances, many countries including Japan have been doing their utmost to conclude the negotiations and meet this deadline. I myself visited Geneva en route to the Lyon Summit as the second session of the Conference on Disarmament was nearing an end, and I urged the representatives of the participating countries to make their efforts so as to be able to gain consensus by the end of the session. All the countries participating in the CTBT negotiations are presently examining the final draft treaty text proposed by Ambassador Ramaker, Chairman of the Nuclear Test Ban Ad-Hoc Committee, and I strongly hope that each country will adopt a constructive and flexible attitude by the beginning of the third session of Conference on Disarmament, scheduled for the end of this month.
While the CTBT should be a truly effective legal framework to ban nuclear testing, we should at the same time make sure that the Treaty enters into force at an early date. I would like to appeal to all the countries participating in the negotiations to agree on a treaty text from such a viewpoint. It is regrettable that India has formally announced that it cannot subscribe to the treaty in its present form and we strongly urge India to reconsider its decision.
Japan has been contributing to the improvement of nuclear testing detection technology by utilizing our seismological monitoring know-how, and at the same time, we have been conducting training seminars on seismic verification technology for experts from developing countries. In addition, when the CTBT is signed by the end of this year and the preparatory commission is set up, Japan will make a financial contribution as an advance payment to the commission to facilitate the smooth operation of the CTBT.
I deeply regret that in the midst of the CTBT negotiations last month China conducted nuclear testing again. They announced that they would conduct another nuclear test before September and only then would they enter the moratorium. However, Japan strongly urges China once again not to repeat the testing any more.
Next, the so-called Cut-Off Treaty, which would prohibit the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons is quite important as a next step following the CTBT. Currently, the completion of negotiations on the CTBT being the first priority, Cut-Off Treaty negotiations have yet to begin at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, but Japan, together with other countries concerned, will strive for the earliest possible commencement of the Cut-Off Treaty negotiations.
It goes without saying that the reduction of existing nuclear weapons by nuclear-weapon states, along with measures for the prevention of the development of nuclear weapons and their qualitative improvement, is essential. Recent favorable trend in this respect includes the ratification of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty II by the United States in January of this year and the completion of the transfer of all nuclear warheads from Kazakhstan and Ukraine to Russia. I strongly hope that Russia will add a further impetus to this trend by ratifying the START II to make it enter into force as soon as possible.
The primary responsibility for the dismantlement of nuclear weapons rests with nuclear-weapon states themselves and thus they should not spare efforts on their own to that end. However, in order to make nuclear disarmament an irreversible process, the international community needs to assist nuclear-weapon states in dismantling nuclear weapons. With this in mind, Japan has allocated 100 million US dollars to the former Soviet Union in support of their efforts to dismantle nuclear weapons. In the framework of this cooperation we are assisting Russia in various projects, such as the construction of a processing facility for liquid radioactive waste derived from the dismantling of nuclear-powered submarines and a storage facility for fissile material derived from dismantled nuclear weapons, and so on. Assistance to Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus also includes a variety of projects, such as the establishment of a system for accounting and control of nuclear materials. We shall continue to extend such cooperation in the future.
Another serious problem that the international community has to tackle in order to promote nuclear disarmament and prevent nuclear proliferation is the management and disposal of plutonium and highly enriched uranium derived from dismantled nuclear weapons to ensure that such material will never be used for military purposes. At the Moscow Nuclear Safety and Security Summit in April this year, it was decided to hold an international experts meeting to discuss the treatment of weapons-grade fissile material no longer required for defense purposes. Japan wishes to make some contribution to this end by sharing our technology and expertise concerning plutonium at the experts meeting. In this connection, I would like to call upon nuclear-weapon states to place such fissile material under IAEA safeguards as soon as possible.
I believe that we need not only to carry out, on a step-by-step basis, nuclear disarmament measures that is ongoing or under consideration but also to have a vision for future nuclear disarmament. For instance, both the United States and the Russian Federation need to reduce their nuclear arsenals below the limit set by START II, and at the same time, other nuclear-weapon states should involve themselves in the process of reducing their nuclear weapons. Furthermore, we must consider international nuclear disarmament measures following the CTBT and the Cut-Off Treaty. The preparatory process for the NPT Review Conference to be held in the year 2000 will begin next year, and in order to facilitate that process, both nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states should come up with a scenario for nuclear disarmament as we are approaching the 21st century. We are planning to hold a seminar on nuclear disarmament in Kyoto in December, hoping that it will provide a useful forum for that purpose.
(Prohibition of Chemical and Biological Weapons)
Now let me say a few words about chemical and biological weapons.
The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which was signed in January 1993, is an epoch-making disarmament treaty aimed at the total elimination of chemical weapons. Fifty seven countries including Japan have ratified it, and it needs to be ratified by another eight countries in order for it to enter into force. But the meaning of this treaty will be damaged if Russia and the United States, the two countries possessing the largest number of chemical weapons, fail to ratify this convention. I appeal to them to do so before the convention goes into effect.
The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) does not stipulate a verification system, which is a defect in this convention, different from the CWC. International efforts are being made to establish a verification regime in order to strengthen the effectiveness of the BWC, and Japan actively involves itself in this process.
(Restriction on Conventional Weapons)
We need to pay no less attention to the problems of conventional weapons than to those of weapons of mass destruction, for it is conventional weapons that are injuring and killing a large number of people in regional conflicts and civil wars in various regions of the world.
In particular, the indiscriminate use of anti-personnel landmines in areas of conflict has caused the death and injury of many civilians, posing not only a grave humanitarian concern, but also a large obstacle to reconstruction and development once conflicts are settled. To deal with this problem, we need tougher international restrictions on landmines, and at the same time, we must step up the current pace of clearing landmines left behind after conflicts. The Review Conference on the Convention on Prohibition or Restriction of Certain Conventional Weapons held in May this year adopted an amended protocol strengthening restrictions on the use and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. Beyond that, a momentum has been growing in the international community for the total ban on anti-personnel landmines. Japan has decided to support such international efforts toward a global ban on anti-personnel landmines and to undertake a series of unilateral measures on its own initiative. Together with this decision, Prime Minister Hashimoto has announced at the Lyon Summit the intention to host an international conference at senior official level early next year to strengthen international cooperation in the areas of United Nations mine-clearing operations, development of new technologies for mine detection and clearance, and assistance in rehabilitation of victims of landmines.
The excessive accumulation of small arms such as automatic rifles is also one of the causes for intensified regional conflicts and civil wars. At the United Nations General Assembly last year Japan took the initiative for the adoption of a resolution on small arms. Based upon this resolution, a panel of governmental experts was set up to discuss overall measures for problems concerning small arms. The first session of the panel met in New York in June with Mr. Donowaki, Former Ambassador of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament serving as chairman. The panel will meet two more times, and a report will be sent to the United Nations General Assembly next year. I expect that the report will provide a valuable basis to guide the world to address the problems caused by small arms.
With the 21st century near at hand, we have before us a historic opportunity to promote global disarmament and thus to create a safer world. Yet a peaceful world cannot be realized only by disarmament. There must also be greater trust among all countries. In order to realize peace and stability in the world in the truest sense of the word, all countries around the world must join forces and proceed together on the path towards disarmament.
To conclude, I earnestly wish you all a great success at this Conference.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Back to Index