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UN: Japan Violated Human Rights, Fukushima Evacuees Abandoned

“Why should people, especially women and children, have to live in places where the radiation level is 20 times the international limit?” Sonoda said. “The government hasn’t given us an answer.”
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Mitsuko Sonoda’s aunt harvesting rice in her village, which is outside the mandatory evacuation zone, before the disaster.
Fukushima evacuee to tell UN that Japan violated human rights
Mitsuko Sonoda will say evacuees face financial hardship and are being forced to return to homes they believe are unsafe
A nuclear evacuee from Fukushima will claim Japan’s government has violated the human rights of people who fled their homes after the 2011 nuclear disaster, in testimony before the UN in Geneva this week.
Mitsuko Sonoda, who voluntarily left her village with her husband and their 10-year-old son days after three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant went into meltdown, will tell the UN human rights council that evacuees face financial hardship and are being forced to return to neighbourhoods they believe are still unsafe almost seven years after the disaster.
“We feel abandoned by the Japanese government and society,” Sonoda, who will speak at the council’s pre-session review of Japan on Thursday, told the Guardian.
An estimated 27,000 evacuees who, like Sonoda, were living outside the mandatory evacuation zone when the meltdown occurred, had their housing assistance withdrawn this March, forcing some to consider returning to their former homes despite concerns over radiation levels.
In addition, as the government attempts to rebuild the Fukushima region by reopening decontaminated neighbourhoods that were once no-go areas, tens of thousands of evacuees who were ordered to leave will lose compensation payments and housing assistance in March next year.
The denial of financial aid has left many evacuees facing a near-impossible choice: move back to homes they fear are unsafe, or face more financial hardship as they struggle to build lives elsewhere without state help.
“People should be allowed to choose whether or not to go back to their old homes, and be given the financial means to make that choice,” said Kendra Ulrich, senior global energy campaigner for Greenpeace Japan.
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Sonoda’s son and a friend drinking from a mountain stream before the disaster.
“If they are being put under economic pressure to return, then they are not in a position to make an informed decision. This UN session is about pressuring the Japanese government to do the right thing.”
Evacuees are being encouraged to return to villages and towns near the Fukushima plant despite evidence that some still contain radiation “hot spots”.
In Iitate village, where the evacuation order was lifted this March, much of the surrounding forests remain highly radioactive, although homes, schools and other public buildings have been declared safe as part of an unprecedented decontamination effort.
“You could call places like Iitate an open-air prison,” said Ulrich. “The impact on people’s quality of life will be severe if they move back. Their lives are embedded in forests, yet the environment means they will not be allowed to enter them. Forests are impossible to decontaminate.”
After months of moving around, Sonoda and her family settled in Kyoto for two years, where local authorities provided them with a rent-free apartment. They have been living in her husband’s native England for the past four years.
“We’ve effectively had to evacuate twice,” said Sonoda, who works as a freelance translator and Japanese calligraphy tutor. “My son and I really struggled at first … we didn’t want to leave Japan.”
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Sonoda and her family near her home in Fukushima before the disaster.
Concern over food safety and internal radiation exposure convinced her that she could never return to Fukushima, aside from making short visits to see relatives. “It’s really sad, because my village is such a beautiful place,” she said. “We had a house and had planned to retire there.”
The evacuations have forced families to live apart, while parents struggle to earn enough money to fund their new accommodation and keep up mortgage payments on their abandoned homes.
“Stopping housing support earlier this year was an act of cruelty,” Sonoda said. “Some of my friends had to go back to Fukushima even though they didn’t want to.”
Greenpeace Japan, which is assisting Sonoda, hopes her testimony will be the first step in building international pressure on Japan’s government to continue offering financial help to evacuees and to reconsider its resettlement plan.
It has called on the government to declare Fukushima neighbourhoods unsafe until atmospheric radiation is brought to below one millisievert (mSv) a year, the maximum public exposure limit recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.
While 1 mSv a year remains the government’s long-term target, it is encouraging people to return to areas where radiation levels are below 20 mSv a year, an annual exposure limit that, internationally, applies to nuclear power plant workers.
“Why should people, especially women and children, have to live in places where the radiation level is 20 times the international limit?” Sonoda said. “The government hasn’t given us an answer.”
 
Fukushima evacuees have been abandoned by the Japanese government
Mitsuko Sonoda says Tokyo is violating the human rights of evacuees by pressuring them to return to the area, even though radiation levels remain high following the 2011 nuclear power plant disaster
I used to live in Fukushima with my husband and our child, in a fantastic natural environment with a strong local community. That was until the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 destroyed coastal communities and killed tens of thousands of people.
The day after it hit, there were constant aftershocks. It gave us another massive scare when the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant exploded. We decided to evacuate to Western Japan to protect our child.
The government raised the level of “acceptable” exposure to the same standard as nuclear workers – 20 times the international public standard. My son was not a nuclear worker, but a little boy, more vulnerable to the effects of radiation than adults.
Like my family, many fled contaminated areas that were below the raised emergency level, but higher than acceptable. We have been labelled “self-evacuees”. We have never received compensation, outside some housing support.
Some of the evacuee children have struggled to adjust to a different environment. They have continued to miss family, friends and old schools, and have been bullied by other children in their new residences. There were even rumours of “contagion”.
Many children also really miss their fathers, who have often stayed in Fukushima for their jobs.
Mothers have silently tackled these difficulties, including health problems in themselves and their children. We have sometimes been labelled neurotic, irrational and overprotective, our worries about radiation dismissed. Divisions and divorce have been common.
All the while, we miss our relatives, friends, old community and the nature we used to live in.
In March, the government lifted evacuation orders, and the housing support for self-evacuees stopped. Citizens were pressured to return to Fukushima. Research said radiation levels still exceeded the government’s long-term goals.
Because evacuation orders have been lifted, Tokyo Electric Power Company will also stop compensation for victims by March 2018. We need this accommodation support to continue any kind of stable life.
Before Fukushima, they said a major accident could not happen. Now they say radiation is not a problem. They say hardly any compensation is needed. Why should we have to return to live in a radioactive area? Nuclear victims don’t seem to have the right to be free from radiation.
I’m travelling to Geneva this week to testify at a pre-session for the UN Human Rights Council’s review of Japan. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s resettlement policies are violating our human rights. If the Japanese government doesn’t support the nuclear survivors, what’s stopping other countries from doing the same in the future?
Mitsuko Sonoda is a Fukushima nuclear accident survivor and evacuee. She now advocates for the rights of nuclear disaster victims, and is going to the UN Commission for Human Rights with the support of Greenpeace Japan
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October 13, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

A-bomb survivors submit petition for nuclear ban

 

Representatives of Japanese atomic bomb survivors have compiled a petition of nearly 3 million signatures calling for a nuclear weapons ban treaty. The group handed the document to the chair of the ongoing UN meeting on the convention.

The second round of negotiations aimed at concluding the world’s first-ever nuclear weapons ban treaty started on Thursday at UN headquarters in New York.

On the second day of talks on Friday, representatives of atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Toshiyuki Mimaki and Masako Wada presented the petition to the chair of the meeting, Costa Rica’s envoy Elayne Whyte. They say their groups collected 2.96 million signatures over just more than a year since last April.

Wada handed the petition over along with a paper crane, a symbol of peace. She said the signatures represent the voices of atomic bomb survivors and citizens, and thanked the chair for her leadership.

Whyte responded that the main purpose of the treaty is to eliminate the suffering caused by nuclear weapons. The representatives applauded her when she said the signatures are very important for the negotiators.

After the handover, Wada observed that the draft treaty incorporates the Japanese word “hibakusha,” meaning atomic bombing survivor. She said she believes this shows the delegates have recognized the group’s long years of anti-nuclear activities.

Also in New York, atomic bomb survivor Masao Tomonaga from Nagasaki met Japan’s UN Ambassador Koro Bessho to relay a message from the Nagasaki mayor, Tomihisa Taue.

The message described a feeling of disappointment that is spreading among Nagasaki citizens over Japan’s absence from the negotiations.

Tomonaga said Bessho told him he understands their feeling, but Japan cannot decide on its own to leave the nuclear umbrella, and has had to make a difficult choice regarding the ongoing talks.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170617_15/

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Food Presents “No Immediate Problem”: UN Food and Agricultural Organization Director General

Contaminated food & chopsticks

 

The other day I read a headline at The Asahi Shimbun that made me pause and read the entire article carefully.

Please note that the headline states that the Director General of the UN FAO is “convinced” that Fukushima food is safe to eat.

However, if you read his actual words, as quoted in the article, you will see that he is not in fact arguing that Fukushima food is safe to eat.

Rather, what he is saying is at this “moment” the agency sees “no immediate problem”:

Yukie Yamao. (2017). U.N. food agency ‘convinced’ that Fukushima food is safe to eat. The Asahi Shimbun http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201705080043.html
ROME–Food produced in Fukushima Prefecture is safe, but continued monitoring will be needed to ensure that remains the case, according to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization’s top official.

“We’ve been following this issue very closely,” said FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva in a recent interview with The Asahi Shimbun, referring to the safety of agricultural products and other food items grown and manufactured in the prefecture.

“We are also periodically testing samples to certify that the food presents no danger to human beings. For the moment we are convinced that there is no immediate problem with the food coming from that area.”

He added that maintaining control over the situation is crucial.

Whenever I read “no immediate” risk, I know that there are very likely to be long-term risks.

Long-term risks derive from chronic exposure to elevated gamma, beta and alpha radiation from sources internal and external to human bodies.

Concentration of radioactive isotopes – such as cesium-137, iodine-131, and strontium-90 – in food is a well-established problem and poses risk for internal contamination and bio-accumulation in biological bodies.

Japan has historically had strict standards for radionuclides in food compared to the US, but even low-levels of isotopes in food can create problems over time. For example, strontium-90 ends up in bone and teeth. Most isotopes are chemically toxic in addition to being radioactive.

Monkeys living in Fukushima have been found to have bio-accumulated radio-cesium:

Bahar Gholipour Fukushima monkeys show signs of radiation exposure Livescience.com July 24, 2014, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fukushima-monkeys-blood-shows-signs-of-radiation-exposure/

The results showed Fukushima monkeys had lower counts of red and white blood cells, and other blood parts compared with 31 monkeys from Shimokita Penisula in northern Japan. The researchers also found radioactive cesium in the muscles of Fukushima monkeys, ranging from 78 to 1778 becquerels (units of radioactivity representing decay per second) per kilogram, but they didn’t find any in Shimokita monkeys. [7 Craziest Ways Japan’s Earthquake Affected Earth] Exposure to radioactive materials may have contributed to the blood changes seen in Fukushima monkeys, study researchers Shin-ichi Hayama and colleagues wrote in their study, published today in the journal Scientific Reports. Low blood cell counts could be a sign of a compromised immune system and could potentially make the monkeys vulnerable to infectious diseases, the researchers said.

Here is the relevant academic publication and an excerpt from the abstract, that describes cesium concentrations:

Kazuhiko Ochiai , Shin-ichi Hayama , Sachie Nakiri et al “Low blood cell counts in wild Japanese monkeys after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster,”Scientific Reports 4, Article number: 5793 (2014) doi:10.1038/srep05793, http://www.nature.com/articles/srep05793

[excerpted] Total muscle cesium concentration in Fukushima monkeys was in the range of 78–1778 Bq/kg, whereas the level of cesium was below the detection limit in all Shimokita monkeys. Compared with Shimokita monkeys, Fukushima monkeys had significantly low white and red blood cell counts, hemoglobin, and hematocrit, and the white blood cell count in immature monkeys showed a significant negative correlation with muscle cesium concentration. These results suggest that the exposure to some form of radioactive material contributed to hematological changes in Fukushima monkeys.

The study in Scientific Reports detected cesium levels ranging from 78-1778 Bq/kg in monkey muscle.  What are the implications for monkeys bio-accumulating cesium in their muscles?  My guess is that what happens to monkeys is likely to follow what happens to people.

In a 2003 video titled Nuclear Controversies by Vladimir Tchertkoff,Professor Yury Bandazhevsky (former director of the Medical Institute in Gomel), states that based on his research on children exposed to radiocesium from Chernobyl, ‘Over 50 Bq/kg of body weight lead to irreversible lesions in vital organs.’

In a short summary of his work published in 2003, Bandazhevsky described high levels of Cesium-137 bioaccumulation in Chernobyl children’s heart and endocrine glands, particularly the thyroid gland, the adrenals, and the pancreas. He also found high levels in the thymus and the spleen. He found higher levels of bio-accumulation in children than adults. This research demonstrates how radiocesium bioacccumulates within organs and establishes the vulnerability of young people to that process.

Is Fukushima food safe? Based on the monkey research and comments made by the head of the FAO, my conclusion is that Fukushima momentarily poses no immediate risks but long-term consumption could lead to bioaccumulation of radionuclildes, a situation which probably is not, at all, limited to Japan, and poses excess risks for disease and disability.

http://majiasblog.blogspot.fr/2017/06/fukushima-food-presents-no-immediate.html

 

 

June 4, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | 1 Comment

U.N. food agency ‘convinced’ that Fukushima food is safe to eat

We certainly would like to know the details about the test methods… This shows very well the stance of the UN toward health issues related to radiation. FAO corroborates with IAEA for food testing.

 

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Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization, in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun in Rome on May 3.

ROME–Food produced in Fukushima Prefecture is safe, but continued monitoring will be needed to ensure that remains the case, according to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization’s top official.

We’ve been following this issue very closely,” said FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva in a recent interview with The Asahi Shimbun, referring to the safety of agricultural products and other food items grown and manufactured in the prefecture.

We are also periodically testing samples to certify that the food presents no danger to human beings. For the moment we are convinced that there is no immediate problem with the food coming from that area.”

He added that maintaining control over the situation is crucial.

The Rome-based FAO began conducting checks on food products from Fukushima in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011.

Da Silva said he is happy with measures that the Japanese government has implemented as precautions for consumers and assistance to local farmers as they comply with international regulations.

His comments came ahead of his first visit to Japan in four years, scheduled from May 9.

In addition to meetings with Japanese government officials, Da Silva is expected to participate in an event organized by the Japanese Foreign Ministry in which attendees will sample desserts made with fruits grown in the prefecture.

Da Silva also said he expects to learn more about the Japanese diet to address the global issue of obesity, which he described as the “most important problem” in advanced countries.

Japan is our best example,” he said of the nation’s lowest obesity rate among the developed world. “We want to learn more about what the Japanese do to avoid obesity. This is part of the culture; your traditional diet is even recognized by UNESCO as a healthy diet.”

Japan’s contribution to the FAO is the second largest after the United States, and its funds have been used to install an irrigation system in Afghanistan.

The FAO, working with Tokyo, is set to increase its number of Japanese staff over a five-year program as the country is under-represented at the organization.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201705080043.html

May 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Anti-Nuke NGO Hikabusha at U.N. Conference on Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

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Toshiki Fujimori, left, hands folded paper cranes to the representatives of countries participating in the United Nations Conference to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons at the United Nations headquarters in New York on March 31, 2017.

Anti-nuke NGO hands paper cranes to delegates at U.N. conference

NEW YORK — As the first session of the United Nations conference to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons wrapped up here on March 31, an atomic bomb survivor and Nagasaki University students had a special present for each of the government representatives: a folded paper crane.

By handing the representatives this symbol of peace, Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor Toshiki Fujimori, 73, and the students conveyed their hope for the establishment of a U.N. treaty outlawing nuclear weapons. The cranes were an initiative planned by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a non-governmental organization (NGO).

“I hope that the cranes will remind the representatives of their determination to abolish nuclear weapons each time they see them,” Fujimori commented.

Hanako Mitsuoka, 21, a third-year student at Nagasaki University and a Nagasaki Youth Delegation member, said everyone took the cranes with smiles on their faces.

ICAN called for the participation of more countries during the conference by also placing the cranes on the seats of representatives of countries that did not participate, including Japan, and running a campaign on social media posting pictures of the non-participating countries’ flags and a signboard with the message “Wish you were here.”

Fujimori, who gave a speech to the conference on its opening day on March 27, conveyed his determination to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

“There is no doubt that there is high hope for us members of civil society to abolish nuclear weapons, so we must act in order to meet those expectations,” he said.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170401/p2a/00m/0na/012000c

A-bomb survivor comments on treaty talks

A representative of a group of atomic bomb survivors has criticized the Japanese government for its refusal to join UN discussions on a legally-binding treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

Toshiki Fujimori is an assistant secretary general of Nihon Hidankyo, or the Japan Confederation of Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb Sufferers Organizations.

He said many participants during the first round described the experience of “hibakusha” or atomic bomb survivors. Fujimori himself told the General Assembly about his experience.

He said he expects Japanese officials to take a seat at the negotiating table and accept the outcome of the first round of talks. He says he believes a good treaty can be drafted in the next round.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170401_10/

 

Ambassador Thomas Hajnoczi

Word ‘hibakusha’ should be in nuke ban treaty preamble: Austrian U.N. delegate

NEW YORK — The permanent representative of Austria to the United Nations in Geneva has told the Mainichi Shimbun he hopes a treaty on the nuclear weapons ban being negotiated at the U.N. headquarters here will include the term “hibakusha” — a Japanese word for those exposed to radiation.

Ambassador Thomas Hajnoczi, who played a leading role in five days of international negotiations between March 27 and 31, told the Mainichi that he is lobbying other participating countries to push for the addition of “hibakusha” in the treaty’s preamble, and said he believes the word will indeed be included since no countries are opposed to the idea.

The term “hibakusha” used here is not just referring to survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings, but those who were exposed to radiation from nuclear tests around the world.

The Austrian representative emphasized during a meeting on March 31 that articles on support measures for the victims of nuclear blasts should be included in the treaty since it will focus on human rights issues derived from nuclear weapons.

He also touched on the speeches made by atomic bombing survivors invited to the talks during the March 28 meeting and said he was moved by them. He argued that in the preamble, it is important to refer to suffering that the victims of nuclear explosions have been going through, a central part of the treaty.

Toshiki Fujimori, assistant secretary general of the Japan Confederation of Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb Sufferers Organizations, who was exposed to the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, told the U.N. meeting on March 27 that the treaty must reflect the calls of hibakusha “in express terms so that the world makes remarkable progress toward nuclear weapons abolition.”

Another hibakusha from the Hiroshima bombing, Setsuko Thurlow, who now lives in Canada, also made an address during the meeting, saying that she wanted the world to feel the souls of those who died in the two bombings.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170401/p2a/00m/0na/017000c

 

 

April 1, 2017 Posted by | World Nuclear | , | Leave a comment

1st round of nuclear weapons ban treaty talks ends, aims to draft treaty next month

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1st round of nuclear weapons ban treaty talks ends

Delegates from 115 countries have wrapped up the first round of talks on a proposed international treaty to ban nuclear weapons.
The 5-day meeting ended on Friday at United Nations headquarters in New York. It was held following a resolution adopted last December by the UN General Assembly. Non-nuclear countries such as Austria led efforts to press for the adoption.
The next round of talks is scheduled to be held from the middle of June to early July.
Costa Rican Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez chaired the meeting. She said there was constructive discussion on the scope, legal framework, and methods to prohibit nuclear arms.
She added delegates will aim to adopt a draft treaty by July 7th, the deadline for the next negotiations.
A UN statement said the discussion this time was about making nuclear arms illegal. It said the elimination process will be decided in later talks.
Nuclear-weapons countries such as the US and Russia are not participating in the negotiations.
Japan, the only country to have experienced atomic bombings, is also absent. It says nuclear disarmament should be a phased process involving the nuclear nations.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170401_09/

Head of nuclear arms ban talks aims to draft treaty next month

NEW YORK — The president of a conference on establishing a convention to outlaw nuclear weapons said she aims to draw up a draft of the convention next month and have it adopted in July.

The five-day first round of the conference, which was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York, ended on March 31.

Over 100 countries are participating in the conference, and many of them have expressed hope that a treaty to outlaw the use, production, possession, stockpiling and experiments of nuclear arms will be concluded.

Elayne Whyte Gomez, Costa Rican ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva and president of the conference, will draw up a draft while coordinating views among participating countries, and is expected to present the draft to the participating states as early as late May.

Whyte also said a meeting will be held in Geneva by June to exchange opinions between the countries involved, and she aims to have it adopted by the end of the second round of the conference to be held from June 15 to July 7.

About 40 countries, including the five major nuclear states — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — and NATO members and others that rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella, are opposed to a treaty that would ban nuclear arms and are not participating in the conference.

Japanese disarmament ambassador Nobushige Takamizawa announced in a speech at the outset of the conference on March 27 that Tokyo would not participate in the talks.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170401/p2a/00m/0na/013000c

April 1, 2017 Posted by | World Nuclear | , | 1 Comment

Japan’s vote against nuke ban talks mocks its anti-nuke credo

The first round of negotiations on a nuclear ban treaty is expected to be held in March next year. The United States and other nuclear powers have indicated they will boycott the talks. But Kishida has said Japan will be at the negotiating table.

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Toshio Sano, Japanese ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, meet reporters at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Oct. 27 after Japan voted against a resolution calling for negotiations on a treaty that would outlaw nuclear weapons.

The first round of negotiations on a nuclear ban treaty is expected to be held in March next year. The United States and other nuclear powers have indicated they will boycott the talks. But Kishida has said Japan will be at the negotiating table.

Japan’s vote against a United Nations resolution calling for talks on a treaty to ban nuclear arms has made a mockery of its pledge to lead the movement toward a world without nuclear weapons, as the only country that has suffered nuclear attacks.

The U.N. General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security adopted a resolution to start formal negotiations next year on a treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons. In the vote, 123 nations supported the resolution, with 38 opposed.

The United Nations’ decision to embark on full-fledged discussions on a legal framework to ban nuclear arms represents a historic move.

But Japan, along with nuclear powers the United States, Russia, Britain and France, voted against the measure.

Japan has been cautious about negotiating such a treaty. But its vote against the resolution is tantamount to declaring that it is now taking a position closer to those of the nuclear powers. It is hard to fathom the reason for Japan taking this extremely regrettable action.

No wonder the Japanese government’s action has triggered a barrage of criticism by hibakusha, or the survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as various non-governmental organizations devoted to the cause of world peace both at home and abroad.

It is obvious that the use of nuclear weapons is inhumanity at its worst. But there is no international law that bans nuclear arms.

Austria and other non-nuclear states that have sponsored the resolution have made a convincing case for negotiating a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons as a first step toward their elimination.

The United States has expressed especially strong opposition to the move. The principal reason for Washington’s vehement objection is that the proposed treaty would disturb the delicate balance of international security based on nuclear deterrence.

The United States has also called on its allies protected by its “nuclear umbrella,” including Japan and NATO members, to vote against the resolution, claiming that their security, too, would be affected by the envisioned treaty.

As a result, South Korea, Australia and Germany, as well as Japan, were also among the countries that opposed the measure.

The U.N. committee adopted a separate resolution promoted by Japan calling for gradual cuts in the global stockpile of nuclear weapons. The United States supported this resolution.

Explaining Tokyo’s vote, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said starting negotiations on a nuclear ban treaty is inconsistent with Japan’s basic approach to nuclear disarmament.

Many Japanese government policymakers believe the protection of the deterrent effect of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is essential for Japan’s own national security at a time when the security environment in East Asia is deteriorating due partly to North Korea’s continued development of nuclear arms and missiles.

But the proponents of a ban treaty are not calling for an immediate end to dependence on the extended U.S. nuclear deterrence. These non-nuclear states are only advocating the beginning of talks on such a treaty.

How to pursue both nuclear arms reductions and national security is a challenge the world should tackle through international negotiations.

The nuclear powers are acting too inflexibly by opposing even the establishment of a conference for such negotiations.

Japan and other U.S. allies that have followed Washington’s lead will face some serious questions about their independence.

The resolution is now set to be adopted in a U.N. General Assembly session by the end of this year. The first round of negotiations on a nuclear ban treaty is expected to be held in March next year.

The United States and other nuclear powers have indicated they will boycott the talks. But Kishida has said Japan will be at the negotiating table.

The rift between nuclear and non-nuclear states is deeper than ever before.

Japan should now try to play an active role in the efforts to narrow the gap between the positions of both camps by persuading the nuclear powers to join the negotiations.

That’s the way for Japan to maintain the credibility of its commitment to the elimination of nuclear arms as the nation that was once devastated by atomic bombs.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201610290021.html

October 29, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

UN Oks Nuclear Arms Ban Resolution, Japan in Complete Denial of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings Opposed it

Finally, 71 years after the dropping of atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the international community is ready to start negotiations on a new treaty banning nuclear weapons. Although this is a historical moment, it was very sad that Japan and the US opposed the UN resolution.


UN committee OKs nuclear arms ban resolution

A UN General Assembly committee has approved a resolution calling for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.
Japan, the only country that has suffered atomic bombings, was among the countries that opposed it, along with nuclear powers including the United States.
The resolution was adopted on Thursday by a majority vote at the General Assembly’s First Committee on Disarmament.
The resolution submitted by about 50 non-nuclear weapons states calls for starting negotiations on a legally binding treaty in New York in March.
123 countries voted in favor, while 38 voted against. 16 countries abstained.
Among the nuclear powers, the United States and Russia opposed it. China and India abstained.
Japan voted against it. The country has been calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, while under the US nuclear umbrella. But it said disarmament should be done in stages with the cooperation of nuclear and non-nuclear states.
Austrian disarmament ambassador Franz Josef Kuglitsch called the resolution the fruit of years of huge effort and conscience-building by many countries and civil society. Austria is one of the proponents of the resolution.
If adopted at a General Assembly session in December, treaty negotiations will start in March.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161028_12/

U.S., Japan oppose and China abstains as U.N. votes to launch talks on nuclear arms ban

UNITED NATIONS – A U.N. General Assembly committee on Thursday voted to launch negotiations on a new treaty banning nuclear weapons despite fierce opposition from the world’s nuclear powers.

A resolution presented by Austria, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa and Brazil was adopted by a vote of 123 to 38, with 16 abstentions, following weeks of lobbying by the nuclear powers for “no” votes.

The nonbinding resolution provides for negotiations to begin in March on the new treaty, citing deep concern over the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.”

Four of the five U.N. Security Council nuclear powers — Britain, France, Russia and the United States — voted against the resolution, while China abstained, as did India and Pakistan.

Japan, which has long campaigned against the use of nuclear weapons, voted against it, as did South Korea, which is facing a nuclear threat from North Korea.

Opponents argued that nuclear disarmament should be addressed within negotiations on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, described the vote as a “historic moment” in the decades-long drive for a nuclear-free world.

This treaty won’t eliminate nuclear weapons overnight. But it will establish a powerful, new international legal standard, stigmatizing nuclear weapons and compelling nations to take urgent action on disarmament.”

The measure is expected to go to the full General Assembly for a vote in late November or early December.

Although Japan voted against the resolution due to pressure exerted by the U.S., Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday that Japan intends to join U.N. negotiations to outlaw nuclear weapons.

At present, I hope to proactively join in the negotiations and firmly present our stance,” which stresses cooperation between nuclear and nonnuclear powers, Kishida told reporters, adding that the government as a whole will make the final decision.

Kishida said Japan opposed the draft resolution as it did not match the country’s stance to pursue a world free of nuclear weapons by “concrete and pragmatic measures” amid the growing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and the need for nuclear deterrence.

The resolution further deepens the rift and encourages opposition” between countries possessing nuclear weapons and those that do not, Kishida said.

Japan also took note of the votes by other key countries in making the decision, Kishida said. All of the countries possessing nuclear weapons, including the United States, opposed the draft resolution, while North Korea voted in favor.

The resolution calls for talks to be held twice next year — the first round from March 27 to 31 and the second from June 15 through July 7 in New York — to negotiate a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.

Despite the U.S. and other nuclear powers’ objection to the motion, Robert Zuber, director of Global Action to Prevent War, a nongovernmental organization, is upbeat about its prospects.

We believe that a ban treaty could help contribute to a robust international framework to which the nuclear weapon states could eventually accede,” he said.

But the decision by Japan, the only country to have ever suffered a nuclear attack, to vote against the draft disappointed some anti-nuclear campaigners.

The government is “still captured by a very old-fashioned idea on security. They still believe nuclear weapons are necessary for their own security. However, it is already clear that it is nuclear weapons that are posing a threat to global security and survival of human kind, as testified by many survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” said Akira Kawasaki, director of Peace Boat Hibakusha Project.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/28/world/politics-diplomacy-world/u-s-japan-oppose-china-abstains-u-n-votes-launch-talks-nuclear-arms-ban/

UN votes to start negotiating treaty to ban nuclear weapons

Australia votes with major nuclear powers against the resolution – including US, Russia and Israel – but 123 nations vote in favour

United Nations member states have voted overwhelmingly to start negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, despite strong opposition from nuclear-armed nations and their allies.

In the vote in the UN disarmament and international security committee on Thursday, 123 nations were in favour of the resolution, 38 opposed and 16 abstained.

Nuclear powers the United States, Russia, Israel, France and the United Kingdom were among those that opposed the measure.

Australia, as forecast last week, and as a long-time dependant on the US’s extended nuclear deterrence, also voted no.

The resolution now goes to a full general assembly vote some time in December.

The resolution aims to hold a conference in March 2017 to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

Support for a ban treaty has been growing steadily over months of negotiations, but it has no support from the nine known nuclear states – the US, China, France, Britain, Russia, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – which includes the veto-wielding permanent five members of the security council.

But Australia has been the most outspoken of the non-nuclear states.

During months of negotiations, Australia has lobbied other countries, pressing the case for what it describes as a “building blocks” approach of engaging with nuclear powers to reduce the global stockpile of 15,000 weapons.

Australia has consistently maintained that as long as nuclear weapons exist, it must rely on the protection of the deterrent effect of the US’s nuclear arsenal, the second largest in the world.

When he appeared before Senate estimates last week, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s assistant secretary, Richard Sadleir, forecast Australia’s rejection of the vote: “Consistent with the position to that we took to the open-ended working group (into nuclear disarmament) report, we will be voting no with respect to that resolution.”

Sadleir said Australia’s position on nuclear disarmament was “consistent and clear”.

We do not support a ban treaty,” he said. “A ban treaty that does not include the nuclear weapons states, those states which possess nuclear weapons, and is disconnected from the rest of the security environment, would be counterproductive and not lead to reductions in nuclear arsenals.”

Professor Tilman Ruff, founding chair of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, said the vote was a “historic step” for the world that “heralds an end to two decades of paralysis in multilateral nuclear disarmament”.

The numbers are especially encouraging given the ferocious pressure on countries to vote no by the nuclear-armed states, who see that this will fundamentally challenge their continued possession of nuclear weapons,” he said.

The treaty will fill the legal gap by which the most destructive of all weapons – nuclear weapons – are the only weapon of mass destruction to not yet be outlawed by international treaty.”

Ruff said Australia should reverse its opposition “and get on the right side of humanity”.

Australia is doing dirty work for Washington, and is willing for US nuclear weapons to be used on its behalf, and potentially with its assistance,” he said.

It is inconceivable that Australia would not eventually sign up to a treaty prohibiting the last to be banned and worst [weapons of mass destruction]. We’ve signed every other treaty banning an unacceptable weapon, and on some, like chemical weapons, we were a leader.”

Ruff said that given there were no nuclear disarmament negotiations under way or planned, a ban treaty was the only feasible path towards ridding the world of nuclear weapons available now.

The efficacy of a ban treaty is a matter of fierce debate.

Without the participation of the states that actually possess nuclear weapons, critics argue it cannot succeed. But proponents say a nuclear weapons ban will create moral suasion – in the vein of the cluster and landmine conventions – for nuclear weapons states to disarm, and establish an international norm prohibiting nuclear weapons’ development, possession and use.

Non-nuclear states have expressed increasing frustration with the current nuclear regime and the sclerotic movement towards disarmament.

With nuclear weapons states modernising and in some cases increasing their arsenals, instead of discarding them, more states are becoming disenchanted with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and lending their support for an outright ban.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/28/un-votes-to-start-negotiating-treaty-to-ban-nuclear-weapons

 

October 29, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment