Japanese foreign minister responds to protests over remark on nuclear weapons

by Jumpei Fujimura, Staff Writer

Residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have protested a remark made by Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, which could be interpreted as his acceptance of the limited use of nuclear arms. Responding at a press conference held on January 24, Mr. Kishida, who represents district one in Hiroshima, said, “We will remain humble in acknowledging various points of view.”

Mr. Kishida referred to the address he made in Nagasaki on January 20, saying that he was “speaking broadly” with regard to Japan’s policy on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and “current conditions.” He went on: “For Japan to be at the forefront of global opinion and lead this discussion, as the only country to have experienced the devastation of nuclear attack, presenting our policies in this area clearly is of the utmost importance.”

He also said that he will make “full use” of various opinions for future discussion, suggesting that the public’s views and criticism will be considered in continuing discussions on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

In his address in Nagasaki, Mr. Kishida outlined Japan’s new ideas on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. As one concrete measure to reduce the role of nuclear arms, he mentioned the need to declare that the use of nuclear weapons (by nuclear states) should be limited to extreme circumstances based on the right to individual and collective self-defense.

During the press conference, Mr. Kishida also touched on the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Non-proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), which is scheduled to take place in Hiroshima in April. He hinted that he hopes Japan’s new ideas will form the core of the proposals formulated at the meeting, saying, “These ideas will be important in contributing to an in-depth discussion.” The NPDI is composed of 12 non-nuclear nations.

(Originally published on January 25, 2014)