Prime Minister Suga does not mention topic of TPNW when describing meeting with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden

by Seiji Shitakubo, Staff Writer

At a news conference held on January 7, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga failed to answer whether he would bring up the issue of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which will enter into force on January 22, in a meeting with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden scheduled for February in the United States. That appears to be a willful abandonment of the opportunity to speak directly with the new leader of the nuclear superpower about the stance of the Japanese government, which has repeatedly made appeals to serve in the role of “bridge” between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states.

When asked what policies he would present regarding the TPNW when attending the meeting, Mr. Suga declined to provide a direct answer, pointing out that the TPNW did not enjoy the support of nuclear weapon states, including the United States, or many of the non-nuclear weapon states. “We have no intention of signing the treaty,” stressed Mr. Suga.

Some hold the view that Japan, the only nation to have suffered an atomic bombing in war time, continues to turn its back on the treaty out of consideration for the United States, which provides Japan protection under its “nuclear umbrella.” In response, Mr. Suga said, “There is no basis for the claim.”

The Komeito party of the ruling coalition has urged Japan’s government to participate as an observer in the meeting of States Parties, a gathering that is to be held within one year after the treaty’s effectuation. Mr. Suga has explained to this point that Japan would carefully examine the country’s participation in the meeting. At the press conference, when queried about the possibility of participating, Mr. Suga declined to answer the question.

(Originally published on January 8, 2021)