Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stressed the importance of unity in the international community to realize a world without nuclear weapons in his speech at the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in New York on Monday.
With little progress being made toward nuclear disarmament, the prime minister hopes to advance discussions involving the nuclear powers. The prime minister’s ability to communicate this message will likely be tested in the future.
“It’s important for Japan to show how we are taking realistic steps toward the ideal of a nuclear-free world,” Kishida said to reporters, explaining the aims of the Hiroshima Action Plan he presented, which included calls for increased transparency of nuclear forces, among other things.
An aide to the prime minister said Kishida is skeptical of the treaty, which is promoted by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and others. Some have said of ICAN that, although there has been noticeable criticism of Japan’s nonparticipation, the organization has not been able to directly reach out to China and North Korea.
Kishida, who represents a constituency in the atomic-bombed city of Hiroshima, has said realizing a world without nuclear weapons is his “life’s work,” but the prime minister believes it is meaningless to try to promote nuclear disarmament unless Russia, China, and other nuclear weapon states are involved.
To this end, he addressed Russia’s nuclear threats in his speech and urged the United States and China to engage in dialogue toward nuclear disarmament and arms control.
He also said Japan will host a meeting of political leaders and others from both nuclear powers and non-nuclear-armed states in Hiroshima on Nov. 23.
Kishida delivered the address in English — the first time he has done so since becoming prime minister — based on his desire to “communicate directly and in his own words.”
Kishida will hold talks in Hiroshima on Saturday with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who is scheduled to attend the Peace Memorial Ceremony in the city.
“The prime minister faces a test of whether he will be able to serve as a ‘bridge’ between nuclear-armed states and non-nuclear weapon states, which are becoming increasingly divided,” a member of the ruling party said.