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HOME > Public Statements and Opinion Papers > Statements > Declaration of a Call to Action Toward Achieving a World Without Nuclear Weapons

Declaration of a Call to Action Toward Achieving a World Without Nuclear Weapons

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The Japan Federation of Bar Association (JFBA) called for world peace in its first annual general meeting in 1950. In its subsequent general meetings and conventions on the protection of human rights, the JFBA has resolved and declared a call to action toward achieving world peace, protecting human rights, and abolishing nuclear weapons. The JFBA affirmed in its 51st convention on the protection of human rights held in Toyama, Japan, in October 2008, that "the right to live peacefully is a basic human right on which all fundamental human rights exist" and that "this right should be recognized as a concrete norm to realize the right of all the people in the world to live peacefully in today's world of constant conflicts and violence."

 

Nuclear weapons, if used, would cause ecological havoc and have a devastating effect on human lives and health. More than 23,000 nuclear bombs and warheads are believed to be stockpiled in the world today, which pose by far the most serious threat to human existence and civilization. As they are indiscriminate, inhumane weapons of mass destruction, the threat or use of them clearly violates international law.

 

President Obama of the United States, in a speech delivered in April 2009, mentioned America's moral responsibility to act as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, and stated "America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." In September 2009, an unprecedented U.N. Security Council summit on nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament adopted a resolution to "create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons." The Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) held in May 2010 took a significant step toward a nuclear-weapons-free world when it unanimously adopted a final document that declared all NPT states had a commitment to "pursue policies that are fully compatible with the Treaty and the objective of achieving a world without nuclear weapons."
Japan is the only country in the world to have suffered atomic bomb attacks on its soil. When the bombs exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, more than 200,000 people were killed. Many survivors have continued to suffer from severe after-effects to this day. Against this backdrop, Japan is obligated to lead efforts to make the world free of nuclear weapons, especially as the movement toward their abolition is gaining considerable global momentum.

 

The JFBA asks the Japanese government to legislate three non-nuclear principles—a policy of not possessing or producing nuclear weapons, and not permitting their entry into the country; to work toward the denuclearization of Northeast Asia; and to take a strong initiative to urge other countries around the world to sign on to a multilateral nuclear weapons convention.

 

The JFBA hereby reaffirms and declares its unwavering commitment to work toward a world without nuclear weapons by continuing to remind people around the world of the suffering and devastation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused by nuclear attacks and, as an association of lawyers, by submitting for public review and open debate a draft law intended to institutionalize the three non-nuclear principles.

 

Background of the Declaration

1. JFBA's Activities Toward Reducing the Threat of Nuclear Weapons

The JFBA called for world peace in its first annual general meeting in 1950. In its subsequent general meetings and conventions on the protection of human rights, the JFBA has resolved and declared a call to action toward achieving lasting world peace, protecting human rights, and abolishing nuclear weapons, and has been working toward attaining those goals. In the 12th convention on the protection of human rights it held in Hiroshima, Japan, in October 1969, the JFBA declared: "In the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution of Japan, we demand that all countries in the world immediately stop developing, producing, stockpiling, testing or using nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, which pose a serious threat to world peace and human rights, and that they completely dismantle production facilities for those weapons. In addition, we urge the Japanese government and Diet to reiterate this urgent humanitarian demand when implementing the country's domestic and foreign policy agenda. We also strongly urge them to do everything they can to provide medical care and other support for the survivors of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki." In May 1978, the JFBA prepared and published a draft international treaty to ban the use of nuclear weapons.

 

The JFBA adopted in its 51st convention on the protection of human rights held in Toyama, Japan, in October 2008, the Declaration Affirming the Current Meaning of the Right to Live Peacefully and Article 9 of the Constitution, which states, in part, that "the right to live peacefully is a basic human right on which all fundamental human rights exist" and that "this right should be recognized as a concrete norm to realize the right of all people in the world to live peacefully in today's world of constant conflicts and violence."

 

To our deep disappointment, however, the complete elimination of nuclear weapons has yet to become a reality. On the contrary, more than 23,000 nuclear bombs and warheads, albeit a smaller number than before, are stockpiled in the world today, and the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation still remains a threatening reality. In Northeast Asia, where Japan is located, the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China have deployed nuclear forces; Japan and the Republic of Korea are under the nuclear umbrella of the United States; and, in recent years, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has been testing nuclear devices.
Nuclear weapons were and still remain the most serious threat to people's right to live peacefully.

 

2. Illegality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons

As nuclear weapons are indiscriminate, inhumane weapons of mass destruction, the threat or use of them clearly violates international law. In July 1996, the International Court of Justice delivered an advisory opinion that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law. The Tokyo District Court ruled on December 7, 1963, that the indiscriminate nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States in 1945 had violated the then prevailing international law. (Shimoda Ruling, page 17 of Digest No. 355)

 

3. Latest Developments in the International Arena Toward a World Without Nuclear Weapons

President Obama of the United States, in a speech delivered in April 2009, mentioned America's moral responsibility to act as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon and stated "America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons."

 

Likewise, President Medvedev of the Russian Federation stated in his letter to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland, that he wholeheartedly embraced the goal of achieving a world without nuclear weapons. The movement toward abolition of nuclear weapons was gaining fast momentum in the international political arena.
At the G-8 Summit meeting held in L'Aquila, Italy, in July 2009, the eight heads of state agreed to take measures to move closer to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons. In September 2009, the United Nations Security Council held a historic summit on nuclear security and adopted U.N. Security Council Resolution 1887 to "create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons." Japan—a member of the Security Council—voted for the resolution.

 

In May 2010, the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) unanimously adopted a final document that outlined a 64-item action plan in the areas of nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, and peaceful usages of nuclear energy—the three pillars of NPT. The document signified an important step toward achieving a world without nuclear weapons: It declared the commitment of all NPT states to "pursue policies that are fully compatible with the Treaty and the objective of achieving a world without nuclear weapons," and called upon the five nuclear weapons states to report to the Preparatory Committee to be held in 2014 on the progress they would have made on the steps toward nuclear disarmament.

 

4. Japan, the Only Country to Have Suffered Atomic Bomb Attacks

Japan is the only country in the world to have suffered atomic bomb attacks on its soil. It has learned the hard way that a nuclear explosion causes ecological havoc and has a devastating effect on human lives and health.

 

When the bombs exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, more than 200,000 people of Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean and other Southeast Asian nationalities were killed. Survivors of the nuclear explosions suffer from radiation poisoning to this day, and after a long incubation period, many of them have begun having cancers, leukemia, liver failures, strokes, or heart diseases and are in deteriorating health.

 

The Atomic Bomb Survivors Relief Law became effective in Japan in 1994, and was intended to provide free medical care and other support for survivors of nuclear attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare favored an extremely narrow interpretation of atomic bomb survivors suffering radiation sickness, so as to officially recognize as few people as survivors eligible for relief as possible. This policy created a large number of disgruntled survivors around the country. They filed a series of class action lawsuits against the ministry to demand that it relax its interpretation and have won every one of them. While legal battles over the official recognition of survivors suffering radiation sickness are coming closer to a resolution, the Japanese government's administrative policy toward survivors still leaves much to be desired. Atomic bomb survivors currently living outside Japan have won a series of lawsuits against the Japanese government to enable them to apply from abroad for official recognition as survivors suffering radiation sickness; however, the Japanese government has yet to begin to compensate them for their medical expenses incurred in the countries in which they live.

 

The Japanese government should step up its effort to provide relief for atomic bomb survivors living in Japan and abroad, and should lead efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons as an obligation for being the only country in the world to have suffered nuclear attacks.

 

5. Legislating Three Non-Nuclear Principles

The Japanese government has reiterated its commitment to uphold the three non-nuclear principles of not possessing or producing nuclear weapons, and not permitting their entry into the country. However, the government does not deny the possibility that U.S. warships armed with nuclear weapons might have called at Japanese ports in the past. In addition, there has been a nagging suspicion among the Japanese public with regard to a purported secret pact between Japan and the United States that, in the event of a military contingency, would allow the latter to bring nuclear weapons into Japanese territory to provide Japan with a nuclear deterrent shield. Furthermore, there is an argument in the Japanese political arena for the need to review and relax the three non-nuclear principles—especially the policy of not permitting the entry of nuclear weapons into Japan.

 

To ensure that the three non-nuclear principles remain at the solid foundation of Japan's non-nuclear-weapons policy, it is imperative to legislate them and give every aspect of them quasi-constitutional legal status. To be sure, drafting such a law would demand careful consideration and debate; the law should be intended not only to ban the production and possession of nuclear weapons in Japan, but also to prevent them from being brought into Japan. The draft should address how to effectively prohibit nuclear-armed vessels or aircraft of other nationalities from entering Japanese waters or airspace, and what the national and local governments as well as businesses should do to enforce the policy; one of several proposed measures is to bind the Japanese government to get vessels and airplanes of other nationalities to submit to Japanese authorities—before entering Japanese territorial waters or airspace—certificates that verify their non-nuclear status. The draft should also address the challenging issue of controlling and managing plutonium and other nuclear materials that can be used to produce nuclear weapons.

 

In addition to ensuring the strict enforcement of the three non-nuclear principles, we need to thoroughly review and debate Japan's national-security policy options to reduce its reliance on the nuclear umbrella provided by the United States.

 

6. Denuclearization of Northeast Asia

A nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty is intended to prohibit participating states in a region from producing, testing, deploying, and using nuclear weapons in the region, as well as to prohibit participating nuclear weapons states from using their nuclear weapons in the region. Currently, nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties are in place in Latin America, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central Asia.

 

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1887 states that the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones "enhances global and regional peace and security, strengthens the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and contributes toward realizing the objectives of nuclear disarmament." A statement to this effect also was included in the final document adopted in the 2010 NPT Review Conference. The Japanese government voted for both of these measures.

 

In Japan, a model Northeast Asia nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty has been drafted, which would make Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea free of nuclear weapons. The idea of denuclearizing Northeast Asia has gained the support of several NPOs inside and outside Japan and some members of the Japanese Diet.

 

A broader nuclear-weapon-free zone with more stringent obligations will definitely contribute toward realizing a world without nuclear weapons. For this reason, the Japanese government should take an initiative to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Northeast Asia to eliminate a nuclear threat from the region.

 

7. Nuclear Weapons Convention

The 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century have seen indiscriminate, inhumane weapons—such as biological weapons, chemical weapons, anti-personnel landmines, and cluster bombs—banned and eliminated under international conventions. To ban and eliminate nuclear weapons in a similar fashion, nuclear weapons states, states believed to have nuclear capabilities, and non-nuclear-weapons states all must sign on to a nuclear weapons convention (NWC) that will prohibit not only the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons but also their development, testing, stockpiling, deployment, and transfer, and that will provide for their elimination in a verifiable manner. In 1987, the United States and the then Soviet Union signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, intended to eliminate all ground-launched, nuclear-tipped ballistic and cruise missiles with intermediate ranges; both countries destroyed such weapons by mid 1991 under the treaty obligation.
The governments of Costa Rica and Malaysia submitted the first model NWC to the United Nations as a discussion draft in 1997 and its updated version in 2007. Each year since 1997, Malaysia has introduced to the U.N. General Assembly a draft resolution calling for multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of an NWC; although the majority of non-nuclear-weapons states have voted for the resolution every year, the majority of nuclear weapons states have voted against it. Negotiations on an NWC have yet to begin.

 

The final document adopted by the NPT Review Conference in May 2010 noted "the proposals for nuclear disarmament of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to inter alia consider negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention or agreement on a framework of separate mutually reinforcing instruments, backed by a strong system of verification." It was the first time in the history of the NPT for one of its document to mention a nuclear weapons convention. However, the final document did not give any timeframe by when negotiations on an NWC should begin. This was said to be because nuclear weapons states strongly opposed setting such a timetable.
To achieve a world without nuclear weapons, it is imperative to get all states to sign on to a legally binding treaty to that effect; it would not be sufficient to build a non-binding political consensus in the international community. We ask the Japanese government to abandon its "abstain" position vis-à-vis the above-mentioned U.N. resolution calling for negotiations on a NWC, and to play a more active role in urging other countries to enter into negotiations to conclude an NWC.

 

8. To Achieve a World Without Nuclear Weapons

The JFBA asks the Japanese government to legislate the three non-nuclear principles to keep them as its solid policy foundation; to work toward the denuclearization of Northeast Asia; and to lead other countries around the world in seeking a world without nuclear weapons by taking a strong initiative to urge them to sign on to a multilateral nuclear weapons convention intended to ban the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons and abolish them.

 

The JFBA hereby reaffirms and declares its unwavering commitment to work toward a world without nuclear weapons by assisting atomic bomb survivors in their efforts to seek government relief for their sufferings; by keeping reminding people around the world of the devastation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused by nuclear attacks; and, as an association of lawyers, by submitting for public review and open debate in symposiums and other forums a draft law intended to institutionalize the three non-nuclear principles.

 

October 8, 2010
Japan Federation of Bar Associations