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HOME  > Past issues  > 2011 November 30 - December 6  > Cluster munitions holders should accept international treaty banning the munitions
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2011 November 30 - December 6 [WORLD]

Cluster munitions holders should accept international treaty banning the munitions

December 4, 2011
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

A U.S.-led effort to weaken the existing global ban on cluster munitions was hindered in a conference of state parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on Certain Conventional Weapons held in Geneva in November. Cluster bomb possessing nations should stop turning their back on the international treaty banning cluster munitions signed by about 100 countries in Oslo in December 2008.

The Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), which came into force in August 2010, prohibits the use of almost all cluster bombs around the world while exempting new-type cluster bombs.

The United States proposed a protocol which only prohibits extremely old-type cluster bombs but allows the use of cluster bombs containing submunitions with less than a one-percent failure rate. The U.S. proposed protocol sought to extend the maximum time limit on scrapping cluster munitions to 12 years from the current 8 years set under the CCM. The protocol showed the U.S. intention to maintain cluster bombs, which tramples on the global public demand for a complete elimination of such bombs.

The foreign ministers of Norway, Austria, and Mexico, countries which played a leading role in creating the Oslo convention, criticized the U.S. proposal for constituting a serious setback to the convention, an international humanitarian law. The International Committee of the Red Cross also said that the U.S. proposed treaty will probably lead to the continuation of the death and serious injuries of innocent civilians.

The Japanese government should be blamed for scrambling to realize the U.S. intentions although the nation ratified the CCM. This proved that Japan, as a military ally of the United States, put less importance on the international community demand to abolish all cluster bombs than on the U.S. policy insistence on maintaining the bombs. If Japan continues with this stance, it will be regarded as a nation indifferent to humanitarian issues and will lose any remaining trust within the international community.

It is unacceptable that nations possessing cluster munitions, including the United States, Russia, Israel, and China, continue to take no part in and ignore the Oslo convention. As a state party to the CCM, Japan should work together with other nations that have ratified the CCM to isolate and ostracize cluster munitions holders in order to move forward to achieve the immediate abolition of cluster munitions.

The Japanese government should also speed up its plan to scrap its own cluster bombs held by the Self-Defense Forces, and should urge the U.S. forces in Japan to stop conducting exercises using cluster bombs in Okinawa and to have all cluster bombs stored in U.S. bases in Japan removed without delay.

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