Experts in Japan, U.S., and South Korea discuss path toward denuclearized Northeast Asia

A citizens’ forum to discuss such subjects as a path toward realizing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Northeast Asia was hold at Meiji Gakuin University, located in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on September 16. Experts from Japan, the United States, and South Korea stressed the significance of this vision as well as the challenges involved in realizing it. They also emphasized the important role that the A-bombed nation of Japan must play.

The vision calls on Japan, South Korea, and North Korea to become non-nuclear weapon states and the neighboring nuclear powers of the United States, Russia, and China not to attack these non-nuclear weapon states with nuclear weapons. Morton Halperin, a former special assistant to the president of the United States during the Clinton administration, stated that a comprehensive approach, under which the nuclear-weapon-free zone is given legally binding force, could convince North Korea, which distrusts the United States, to destroy its nuclear weapons.

After pointing out the need to work together in the peace efforts being made in Japan and South Korea, Bo-hynk Suh, a professor at Seoul National University, said that the threat level posed by nuclear weapons cannot be lowered if people aren’t willing to change their usual mindset when it comes to North Korea. Hiromichi Umebayashi, director of Nagasaki University’s Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (RECNA), called for the A-bombed nation of Japan to exert more initiative, saying, “Having suffered the atomic bombing and holding Article 9 of the Constitution, Japan has persuasive reasons to appeal for a nuclear-weapon-free zone.”

The forum is part of the International Research Workshop, titled “Northeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone and Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones in the World,” sponsored by such entities as RECNA. About 50 people took part in the event.

(Originally published on September 17, 2014)