NAGASAKI–As the only country victimized by atomic weapons, Japan should end its reliance on the U.S. nuclear umbrella for security, panelists said at the annual International Symposium for Peace here on Aug. 2.
In the symposium titled “The Road to Nuclear Weapons Abolition: To Overcome ‘Nuclear Umbrella,’” scholars said such a decision by Japan and other U.S. allies would move the world closer to nuclear abolition.
The symposium was held ahead of events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki this month to mark the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombings of the cities.
In his keynote speech, Gareth Evans, chancellor of Australian National University who served as Australia’s foreign minister between 1988 and 1996, said Japan can send a strong message to the world concerning nuclear disarmament.
“I strongly believe that those of us, the U.S. allies, including my own country, who are presently sheltering or believing that we are sheltering under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, should be prepared to make it very clear our acceptance of a much-reduced role of nuclear weapons in our protection,” Evans told an audience of 400 at Nagasaki Brick Hall.
“This is not an easy issue for Japan to deal with, torn between the horror of its 1945 experiences and its passion for nuclear protection, but a more robust commitment to really leading the way of nuclear disarmament would pay real dividends,” he said.
“For us to continue to be hypocritical, arguing everyone else should not rely on nuclear protection as we do for our own security protection, it certainly does not help the global nonproliferation agenda, and it does not begin to be a recipe for reducing terrible nuclear risks, which no one understands more than the citizens of this city,” Evans added.
Mitsuru Kurosawa, professor emeritus of international law at Osaka University, said it is utterly wrong for the Japanese government to think that the U.S. nuclear umbrella provides protection even in a non-nuclear contingency.
“Such a way of thinking not only ignores the reality of military strategy but is also dangerously harmful to the world’s effort to reduce nuclear weapons,” he said.
The symposium, sponsored by The Asahi Shimbun and held alternately in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, has offered a venue to discuss possible steps to reduce and abolish the world’s nuclear arsenals.
At this year’s event, panelists and guest speakers repeatedly raised concerns about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for constitutional reinterpretation and other measures to strengthen Japan-U.S. military cooperation.
Panelist Fumiko Nishizaki, a professor of U.S. diplomatic history at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Arts and Science, said such a policy shift will inevitably strengthen Japan’s reliance on the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
“Postwar Japanese have lived with ambiguity stemming from Article 9 of the Constitution and the country’s reliance on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, and the government’s recent moves are aimed at eliminating this ambiguity at a burst,” Nishizaki said.
“But the path is leading Japan to strengthen its reliance on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and, psychologically, the theory of nuclear deterrence.”