The significance of the G8 speakers’ meeting in Hiroshima

by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer

The G8 Summit of Lower House Speakers is set for September 2, 2008 in Hiroshima. A symposium on “peace and disarmament,” sponsored by the Japanese Parliamentary Association for the Promotion of International Disarmament (JPAPID) and other organizations, will also take place in the city on August 31, 2008.

Ahead of these events, the Chugoku Shimbun interviewed Dr. Kuniko Inoguchi, Member of the House of Representatives, who has served as president for the Conference on Disarmament and Ambassador for Disarmament in Geneva, about the significance of the top legislators in major countries coming to the A-bombed city of Hiroshima to discuss nuclear disarmament.

What is the significance of the G8 Speakers’ Summit in Hiroshima?

This is a historic moment for the door of disarmament to open. The fact that the G8 nations are gathering in Hiroshima, as if the citizens themselves have come together in a consensus that “disarmament is the international community’s top priority,” is significant in and of itself.

What sort of trend do you see in the world in terms of nuclear weapons?

Though some criticism about the regime is heard, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has succeeded in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. At this point we must take the step of further strengthening the NPT. Another step involves addressing the danger that nuclear proliferation poses, which is different from the Cold War period. Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in the United States, the possibility that nuclear weapons might fall into the hands of terrorists has grown. The only way to prevent such a scenario is to aim at the total elimination of these weapons. When countries reflect on their own national interests in this regard, an effort to create a world free of nuclear weapons becomes a necessary course of action.

The NPT is said to have many flaws.

The five nuclear powers--the U.S., Russia, China, the U.K., and France--are permitted to possess nuclear weapons while failing to fulfill their duty to work for disarmament. As a result, non-nuclear nations are deeply dissatisfied with the execution of the NPT. At the NPT Review Conference, it is critical to call on the five nuclear powers to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons in order to mitigate this disparity.

What are your hopes for the NPT Review Conference in 2010?

I hope that the five nuclear powers state a specific target for reducing the number of nuclear warheads in their possession and provide verification measures leading to the total abolition of nuclear weapons. I also hope that NPT member nations will make a concerted effort to persuade North Korea to return to the treaty.

How should we handle India, Pakistan, and Israel, countries which continue to build nuclear weapons outside the NPT regime?

Those three countries contend that they will disarm if the nuclear powers do. To get India, Pakistan, and Israel involved in disarmament efforts, the nuclear powers first have to fulfill their own responsibility to work for disarmament.

I place importance on the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT). It’s imperative to enact such a treaty to ban the production of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium. Further negotiation for this treaty should commence as soon as possible. India, Pakistan, and Israel have already indicated that they would abide by such a treaty, if enacted. By putting the brakes on nuclear weapons production, the FMCT could play a significant part in preventing nuclear proliferation.

What role should Japan play?

As the only A-bombed nation, Japan should demonstrate leadership in efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons. In a summary statement issued at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit held this past July, Prime Minister Fukuda, as president of the summit, referred to the obligation of the nuclear nations to work for disarmament. Henry Kissinger, former U.S. secretary of state, and other former top U.S. officials, have also called for a “nuclear-free world” through opinion pieces in a major American newspaper. Japan should show support for this trend and call forcefully for the total abolition of nuclear weapons.

Dr. Kuniko Inoguchi
Dr. Inoguchi, 56, was born in Chiba in 1952. A former professor at Sophia University, she has been a Member of the House of Representatives since 2005. From 2005 to 2006, she served as Minister of State for Gender Equality and Social Affairs. Dr. Inoguchi earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Political Science from Yale University. She received a B.A. from the Department of Foreign Languages at Sophia University.

(Originally published on August 22, 2008)

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