Statement Urging the Japanese Government to Sign and Ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as Soon as Possible on the Occasion of the First Meeting of its State Parties
The first meeting of the State Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the “TPNW”) will be held in Vienna, Austria in June this year. The TPNW, which came into force on January 22nd last year, was the fruit of many years of efforts and wishes by the victims of the use of nuclear weapons and the victims of the testing of nuclear weapons. The meeting was supposed to be held in January this year but was postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the meantime, the global effort to eliminate nuclear weapons has been stagnant.
Not only that, since February 24, 2022, the Russian Federation (hereafter referred to as “Russia”) has been conducting a military invasion of Ukraine, which is in violation of international law. At the start of the invasion, Russian President Putin announced that he placed the Russian nuclear forces on the high alert, which is a clear provocation with possible use of nuclear weapons toward international society.
In the meantime, in Japan, some Diet members have strongly suggested storing nuclear weapons of the U.S. in Japan on a permanent basis (so-called “nuclear sharing”) and relaxing one of the “Three Non-Nuclear Principles” (“not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons into Japanese territory”) to allow nuclear weapons in Japanese territory, in response to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
However, the suggestion to allow the nuclear weapon storage on Japanese soil is not acceptable as it violates the prohibition of “receipt” of nuclear weapons in Article 2 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons which Japan has ratified and is party to. Also, it is not acceptable to introduce the proposed relaxation on the Three Non-Nuclear Principles, not even one of them, as all of the three principles must continue to be maintained together.
It is clear that, if by any chance there was a nuclear war, it would result in “devastation that would be visited upon all mankind” (the Preamble of Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons) and “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” (the Preamble of the TPNW). The 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice made it clear that not only the use of nuclear weapons, but also the threat of nuclear weapons, would generally be contrary to the principles of international humanitarian law. The TPNW takes the opinion further and prohibits use and threats to use nuclear weapons under any circumstances (Article 1 of the TPNW), and looks toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons (Article 4 of the TPNW).
Given the current global situation in which the actual risk of the use of nuclear weapons is growing, we must achieve universal adherence to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (Article 12 of the TPNW) in order to avoid “catastrophic humanitarian consequences.” Nuclear-weapon states should also sign and ratify the Treaty and Japan, in particular, as the only country to have suffered atomic bombings, should sign and ratify the Treaty as soon as possible, aiming for a world free of nuclear weapons.
In the past, the JFBA has urged the Japanese government to sign and ratify the TPNW with the release of the “Statement Calling for Early Signing and Ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” dated June 6, 2017; the “Statement on the Adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” dated July 10, 2017; “Statement Calling for Early Signing and Ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by the Japanese Government,” dated November 6, 2020; and “Statement Welcoming the Entry into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” dated January 22, 2021. However, the signing and ratification hasn’t been achieved.
For the reasons above, on the occasion of the first meeting of the State Parties to the TPNW, the JFBA once again urges the Japanese government to sign and ratify the TPNW as soon as possible and also strongly requests that the government at least participate the meeting as an observer.
May 26, 2022
President of Japan Federation of Bar Associations