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Dispatches from Nagasaki No.23

The Reaction in Atomic-bombed Cities to the Trump Administration Nuclear Posture Review

The United States Department of Defense released the Trump administration Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) in February 2018. In line with the concerns shared by many people, the content was in direct contrast with that of the Obama administration NPR which had been based on reducing the role of nuclear weapons. Instead the Trump administration seeks to strengthen America’s nuclear strategies. In particular, the administration agrees with the use of nuclear weapons against conventional weapons and its proposal to pursue development of small-sized nuclear weapons for that purpose came as a shock to many people.

Harsh criticism of the Trump administration NPR was also voiced in Nagasaki, after it was released. Nagasaki City Mayor Tomihisa Taue said that the review runs counter to efforts by the international community and atomic-bombed cities to abolish nuclear weapons, such as adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (Nagasaki Shimbun, February 4, 2018 edition). Likewise, Hiroshima City Mayor Kazumi Matsui also commented that the NPR is contrary to moves in the international community and that he urges President Trump to visit the atomic-bombed cities and to aim for a world free of nuclear weapons (Nagasaki Shimbun, February 4 edition). Toyoichi Ihara, President of the Society of Hibakusha Certificate Holders of Nagasaki Prefecture, said he thought that the NPR seemed to be discouraging efforts to abolish nuclear weapons and that it was contrary to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as well as opposing the organization which received the Nobel Peace Prize for advocating to abolish nuclear weapons (Nishi Nihon Shimbun, February 4 edition). These comments represent the candid opinions of many of the citizens of Nagasaki.

With regard to the Trump administration NPR, even though the US Department of Defense is pitching it as “strengthening deterrence,” Tatsujiro Suzuki, Director of the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Nagasaki University (RECNA), says it has increased the risk of using nuclear weapons and expanded that role, and that China and Russia may end up following the United States down the path to expanded nuclear armament (Nagasaki Shimbun, February 4 edition). Severe criticism continued with remarks from Dr. Masakatsu Ota, senior editorial writer at Kyodo News and Visiting Professor at RECNA, who said that China and Russia may both react to this movement by the Trump administration resulting in a risk that the nuclear arms race could flare up again, while North Korea will probably attempt to justify its possession of nuclear arms even more (Nagasaki Shimbun, February 7 edition). The possibility of using nuclear weapons in the escalation of regional conflicts with conventional weapons was mentioned by Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, with regard to the conflict in Ukraine in 2015. This provoked a strong reaction from Japan and the international community at large. However, the Trump administration’s NPR means that the United States is following along the same lines as Russia and may use nuclear weapons in the future. The logic behind the United States showing the possible use of nuclear weapons in attacks aimed at regional conflicts or limited nuclear war is that it will strengthen deterrence. However, the new development of small-sized nuclear weapons for dealing with such a situation means that the United States is advancing preparations to deal with limited nuclear war and the possibility has arisen again of limited nuclear war on a regional level that will not impact upon the mainland, the type of war which Europe was fearful of during the Cold War era. To be honest, it is extremely difficult to understand how this results in reducing the risk of using nuclear weapons.

The Trump administration NPR has been favorably received by the Japanese government which has shown a supportive stance to the United States. Mayor Taue urged Japan, as the only country which experienced atomic bombing during the war, not to follow in the footsteps of the United States (Nagasaki Shimbun, February 4 edition). Dr. Masao Tomonaga, Honorary Director of the Japanese Red Cross Nagasaki Genbaku Hospital and Visiting Professor at RECNA, remarked that he was appalled more than angry, and that if things continue like this, the relations between countries that possess nuclear weapons and those that do not, will not get closer (Nishi Nippon Shimbun, February 4 edition). He also expressed concerns that as the Japanese government showed such swift support for this NPR, Japan’s position as a mediator between countries that possess nuclear weapons and those that do not will be damaged.

The former Obama administration touted “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons” and even if it was not quite satisfactory, that administration showed a positive attitude towards advancing nuclear disarmament. However, directly after Trump’s inauguration there was talk in Nagasaki of worries that nuclear disarmament would undergo a setback in light of the Trump administration’s frequent statements which attached a great deal of importance to military power. Unfortunately, the content of this NPR has shown those worries have become a reality.

 

トランプ政権、「核態勢見直し」(Nuclear Posture Review)へ被爆地の反応

米国防総省は、2018年2月、トランプ政権下での核戦略の指針となる「核態勢見直し」(Nuclear Posture Review)を公表した。多くの人々が危惧していた通り、その内容はオバマ前政権下での核兵器の役割の軽減を基盤とする方針とはほぼ反対に、米国の核戦略の強化を求めるものであった。特に、通常兵器に対する核兵器の使用を肯定し、そのために小型核兵器の開発や配備を求める方針は多くの人々に衝撃を与えた。

長崎においても、この「核態勢見直し」の結果が公表されると、激しい批判が起こった。田上富久長崎市長は「核兵器禁止条約の採択など、国際社会や被爆地が取り組んできた核廃絶の動きに逆行する」(長崎新聞、2018年2月4日)と述べ、また、広島の松井一實市長も「国際社会の動きに逆行する。トランプ大統領は被爆地を訪問し、核兵器のない世界を目指してほしい」(長崎新聞、2018年2月4日)とコメントした。長崎の被爆者団体の一つである長崎県被爆者手帳友の会の井原東洋一会長は「核兵器廃絶の流れに水を差すつもりなのか」「まるで、核兵器禁止条約や核廃絶団体のノーベル平和賞受賞に対抗するかのようだ」(西日本新聞、2018年2月4日)と語ったが、これは多くの長崎市民の率直な意見を代弁するものであろう。

さらに今回の「核態勢見直し」の内容についても、米国防総省が「抑止力の強化」を謳っているにもかかわらず、「核を使用するリスクが高まり、その役割も拡大した。中国やロシアが米国に続けば核軍拡の道をたどることになる」(鈴木達治郎RECNAセンター長、長崎新聞、2018年2月4日)、「トランプ政権の動きに中ロ両国が呼応し、核軍拡競争が再燃する恐れもある。北朝鮮はますます自身の核保有を正当化するだろう」(太田昌克共同通信編集委員/RECNA客員教授、長崎新聞、2018年2月7日)と厳しい批判が相次いだ。通常兵器による地域的な紛争のエスカレーションによって核兵器を使用する可能性については、2015年にロシアのプーチン大統領がウクライナ紛争に関して言及し、日本をはじめ国際社会から反発をかったが、今回の「核態勢見直し」は米国も同じような方針で今後核兵器を運用するという意味であろう。地域的な紛争や限定核戦争を意図したような攻撃に対しても米国は核兵器の使用の可能性を示すことで抑止力が強化されるとのロジックであるが、そのような事態に対処するために小型核兵器を新たに開発するというのは、米国も限定核戦争に応じる準備を進めるということであり、冷戦時代に主に欧州で危惧された「本土には被害が及ばない地域レベルでの限定核戦争」の可能性が再び浮上するということである。これが核兵器の使用のリスクを減らすという結果になぜつながるのか、正直理解に苦しむと言わなければならない。

このような今回の「核態勢見直し」について、日本政府が全面的にこれを歓迎し、支持する姿勢を示したことについても、田上市長は「戦争被爆国として米国の方針に追随しないように求める」(長崎新聞、2018年2月4日)とコメントした。朝長万左男日本赤十字社長崎原爆病院名誉院長/RECNA客員教授も「怒りを通り越してあきれる」「このままでは保有国、非保有国の関係が近づくことはない」(西日本新聞、2018年2月4日)と、このような「核態勢見直し」にいち早く支持を表明したことにより、核兵器国と非核兵器国の間の橋渡し役を務めようとする日本の立場が損なわれるという懸念を示した。

オバマ前政権が「核兵器のない世界」を掲げて、曲がりなりにも核軍縮の推進へ向けて前向きな姿勢を示していた。しかし、それに対し、トランプ政権の軍事力を重視する内容の発言の繰り返しに、核軍縮の後退を危惧する意見は就任直後から長崎でもささやかれていた。残念ながら今回の「核態勢見直し」は、その危惧が現実のものになったと言わざるを得ない内容であった。

 

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