An interview with Toshio Sano, head of Japan’s delegation to the Conference on Disarmament

Representative to Preparatory Committee of NPT Review Conference

Cites need for reports by nuclear weapons states to be more comprehensive

Notes disparities in transparency: Applauds effort to disclose information

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

New York – Toshio Sano, head of Japan’s delegation to the Conference on Disarmament, is representing the nation at the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference. He agreed to be interviewed by the Chugoku Shimbun on May 6. Five nuclear weapons states have submitted reports on their disarmament efforts to the Preparatory Committee. With regard to the reports, Mr. Sano said, “It’s a step forward, but some of the reports are more transparent and comprehensive than others, so I can’t say they’re entirely adequate.” He said he would call for more detailed information to serve as a basis for the promotion of disarmament.

At the urging of Japan, the obligation of the five nuclear weapons states recognized under the NPT (the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and France) to submit the report was included in the final statement adopted at the previous review conference in 2010. The five nations each prepared their standardized forms in advance, and all of their reports were issued by May 2.

“It’s their first try at this,” Mr. Sano said, “and I applaud their efforts.” But he also pointed out inadequacies, noting that one country did not disclose its most recent data on the number of warheads in its arsenal and that the U.S. was the only nation to mention the amount of fissile material it possesses. He said he would continue to call for the reports to be submitted at regular intervals and for the content to be more substantial.

With regard to the outlawing of nuclear weapons, which many non-nuclear nations have called for, he said, “The international community is not yet ready to start negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons.” Noting that “the situation in northeast Asia is very difficult,” he reiterated the government’s established view that “the quickest way to eliminate nuclear weapons is to take a series of practical steps, keeping the nation’s security in mind.”

In this regard, he referred to the Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons that will be held by the government of in Vienna in December and said, “I would like it to provide an opportunity to discuss the issues based on the facts and to make more people aware of the inhumanity of nuclear weapons.” Mr. Sano sidestepped the question of whether or not a representative of the Japanese government would attend, merely saying, “I can’t comment until the date has been decided on.”

(Originally published on May 8, 2014)