RECNA’s Statement on the Entry into Force of
the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)
Research Center for the Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Nagasaki University (RECNA)
January 22, 2021
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has entered into force. This is the outcome of the enduring voices and actions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, led by Hibakusha (Atomic bomb survivors), calling for “No more Hiroshimas” “Let Nagasaki be the last,” that have been echoed widely by many countries and peoples around the world. We, RECNA, would like to welcome this achievement wholeheartedly, as a strong tailwind toward abolition of nuclear weapons.
The government of Mexico, as a host nation, stated that “(we are at) the point of no return” at the end of the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons held in Nayarit on February 2014. In fact, irreversible changes have already been occurring in our world. It is a new trend, we believe, that transforms our security system from the traditional and outdated one depending on the mutual threats by nuclear force, to the “security of all humanity” based on the international cooperation and trust, as stipulated in the preamble of the Treaty.
The unprecedented challenges posed by the spread of COVID-19 have altered perceptions of security and safety for many people. It has become evident that nuclear weapons will never provide stability and safety, rather, their existence merely amplifies the risks that cause catastrophes. More and more people now realize that the nuclear age has reached the “Beginning of the End.”
Nuclear armed countries and the countries under the nuclear umbrella have continued to turn away from the TPNW. However, at such a period of transition, the government of Japan can and should play an important role. If Japan begins to engage in a serious debate over its accession to the TPNW, it will encourage other umbrella states to follow suit. Even though Japan does not intend to sign or ratify the Treaty at this point, the government should express its intention to join the upcoming meeting of TPNW State Parties as an observer, and pave the way to engage in a substantive discussion at the earliest possible date. Japan can definitely make a significant contribution to the discussion of important agenda items, particularly the establishment of disarmament verification mechanisms and victim assistance.
A new administration which is more positive to nuclear disarmament has just been inaugurated in the United States. It should be seized as an opportunity to reverse the trend of nuclear arms racing during the last few years and accelerate nuclear disarmament again. Japan, as a U.S. ally, can fulfill the role of a “bridge-builder” between the nuclear armed states and non-nuclear weapon states by supporting nuclear disarmament policies pursued by the new U.S. administration, as well as proposing concrete nuclear disarmament measures.
In order to reactivate a stagnant international nuclear disarmament environment, new approaches to further promote the “democratization of the nuclear disarmament process” are required. Civil society, together with states and international organizations, including NGOs, media, municipal governments, private companies and youth around the world, should make the most of this momentum through strengthening innovative and creative actions toward the universalization of the TPNW and the creation of a stronger norm against nuclear weapons.