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HOME  > Past issues  > 2011 August 3 - 16  > PM Kan clings to ‘ultimate’ elimination of nuclear weapons
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2011 August 3 - 16 [POLITICS]

PM Kan clings to ‘ultimate’ elimination of nuclear weapons

August 7, 2011
The number of Hibakusha, atomic-bomb victims who died in the past year totals 5,785. The average age of Hibakusha is now 77 years old. They earnestly hope that a world without nuclear weapons be realized while they are alive. However, their hopes were dashed when Prime Minister Kan Naoto called for the “ultimate elimination” of nuclear weapons.

In his address at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6, Kan said, “On behalf of the Government of Japan, I pledge that Japan, the only country to have experienced nuclear devastation in war, will observe its Constitution and firmly maintain the Three Non-Nuclear Principles for the sake of the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons and the realization of eternal world peace.”

The “ultimate elimination” phrase means that the elimination of nuclear weapons would be postponed to an indefinite future.

In the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, all participants including nuclear powers agreed to pursue the aim of the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture Yuzaki Hidehiko said in the memorial ceremony that a new system of global security must be created, changing our current reliance on the “nuclear deterrence theory.”

Reading out the Peace Declaration, Mayor of Hiroshima City Matsui Kazumi pledged that Hiroshima will pour all its energy into striving to “eliminate nuclear weapons by 2020”, the target which the Mayors for Peace has advocated.

The public of Japan and the rest of the world are calling on all governments to discard the nuclear deterrence theory and establish a time frame for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

Tanaka Terumi, secretary general of the Japan Confederation of A and H Bombs Sufferers Organizations who is a survivor of the Nagasaki bombing, said, “Why did the prime minister use again ‘ultimate’, the modifier that has not been used in recent years? I can’t understand him.” Kan’s statement disappointed Hibakusha, disrupting the momentum toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pointed out that a “verified nuclear disarmament itself would make an immense contribution to international peace and security, and should be pursued today, not deferred because of the false notion that it should be undertaken only in a world fully at peace.”

Ban’s message, which was delivered by Sergio de Queiroz Duarte, U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, provided a sharp contrast to Kan’s address. It is questionable if Kan is qualified to be the prime minister of “the only country to have experienced nuclear devastation.”
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