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¡ Diet Debate on UN Resolution (Nov 2001)

The below is a debate on the Japanese UNGA resolution "A Path to the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons" at the House of the Representatives Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on 9th, November 2001. It is an informal but accurate translation of the minutes by Hiro Umebayashi of the Peace Depot.

The question was initiated by Mr. Kaneko, an SDP MP, partly at the request of the Peace Depot.

After turmoil on the Japanese UNGA resolution this year, the Peace Depot thought it of critical importance for the Japanese NGOs to politically reconfirm their Government's position, even only by words, that the Government of Japan continues to recognize that the "unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals" is an important attainment of the 2000 NPT Review Conference and should be a foundation for future negotiation. As you see in the debate, such objective of the Peace Depot was largely accomplished by the debate.

Another point to be noted in the debate is that the GOJ seems to understand correctly the reason why the New Agenda group was not in favor of the Japanese resolution this year, at least after its negotiations with the NA. So, no doubt Japan prefered "yes" votes of France and the UK to those of the NA. However, one cannot exclude the possibility that at first the GOJ was not aware of the real sensitivity of its action in which it moved the phrase of the "unequivocal undertaking" from the preamble, as was in last year's resolution, to the operative paragraph, as is in this year's resolution.

A Diet Debate between Mr. Tetsuo Kaneko, SDP member of the House of Representatives from Hiroshima and Mr. Seiken Sugiura, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs at the House of the Representatives Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on 9th, November 2001

Kaneko:First of all, I would like to ask you the following. At the NPT Review Conference held in May last year, gan unequivocal undertaking to eliminate nuclear arsenalsh was made, and the Government of Japan welcomed in the preamble of its UNGA resolution last year the unanimous adoption of the final document that included this gundertaking.h Namely Japan highly valued this phrase last year. Does such high evaluation remain by Japan unchanged?

Sugiura:It remains unchanged. We highly value the gunequivocal undertaking,h as agreed at the NPT Review Conference last year, by the nuclear weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and there is no change with our evaluation. I addition, in this yearfs resolution that Japan submitted to the UNGA First Committee and was adopted very recently by overwhelming majority of the international community, we have emphasized the importance of the gunequivocal undertaking.h

Kaneko:You have already answered beforehand to what I wanted to ask you next. But I say this. It is true that you included the phrase of the gunequivocal undertakingh this year as well. But last year you put clear emphasis on it in the preamble as a foundation upon which further steps were to be advanced. To the contrary, this year you have put the phrase as one of many other steps to be taken. I think this is a big setback you made this year.

At the same time I have to say the following. The actual way to be taken by Japan should have been like this: since you already have an gunequivocal undertakingh at hand, you, as the Government of the nation victimized by the atomic bombings, should have tried to advance the international environment for nuclear disarmament more this year than last year, and more next year than this year. This should have been the role of Japan. But frankly speaking, the Japanese draft resolution of this year showed considerable setbacks from that of last year.

We have not only the problem with the gunequivocal undertaking,h which I mentioned just now, but we have the problem regarding the CTBT. In the resolution last year, you included even the goal of the year 2003 for its entry-into-force. Also you set a goal of the year 2005 for the conclusion of FMCT. As a MP from Hiroshima, I have been irritated by the GOJ policy of gultimate goal to eliminate nuclear weapons,h but I welcomed your concrete positive initiatives last year. However, you dropped such goal of 2003, and just say gearly entry into force.h Clearly, this yearfs resolution has stepped back from the last one in terms of the attitude of the GOJ. How do you think?

Sugiura:You say that this yearfs resolution has stepped back. Well, you may be right in saying so, but we maintain the fundamentals.

For example, it is thought, for instance by France and UK that it is impossible for the CTBT to enter into force before 2003, so both France and UK voted gyesh to the resolution this year. France was gnoh last year (n.b. in fact gabstentionh last year), but it has changed to gyesh this year. As the US voted gno,h things went in twists and turns, as you know.

Japan did its best to make the US vote gyes,h at worst gabstentionh just as last year. (n.b. In fact, the US voted gyesh last year.) International community, as well as Japan, made best efforts in this direction. Therefore I do hope that you understand that the languages of the resolution rest on a delicate balance.

Kaneko:As you admit, this yearfs resolution has stepped back. Then, why? You wished you would get gyes,h at least gabstention,h from the US. The US had changed its policy on the CTBT. It had gone to the point to reject the CTBT. But still you wanted the cooperation from the US. Then what was the outcome? You got gnoh vote, didnft you?

The foreign policy of Japan is always depending upon that of the US. But even when you drew back to meet the US demand, the US voted gno.h What misery Japanfs diplomacy was. Tell me what happened.

Sugiura:Japan has a constant policy to attach great importance to early entry-into-force of the CTBT. There is no change with it. It is really regrettable that the US was not in favor. But the fundamentals were that Japan maintained its position and did its best.

Kaneko:The GOJ often says that Japan is the only nation devastated by the atomic bombs, but your arguments have no strong powers of persuasion.

              Regarding the resolution this year, you degraded the gunequivocal undertakingh from the premise put in the preamble to one of the steps in the operative paragraphs. As a result, the New Agenda countries, which played vital roles in the last NPT Review Conference, abstained from it. What you got at the same time is the opposition by the US and the abstention by the New Agenda, the group that Japan should have better cooperative relationship in the future as a partner for nuclear abolition. You are doing nonsense.

Sugiura:We have been making various efforts. For instance, the reason why we moved the gunequivocal undertakingh from the preamble to the operative paragraph was to place more emphasis upon it.

              The New Agenda group you mentioned submitted its own UNGA resolution last year, but it is very regrettable that it abstained from our resolution in spite of its no submission of its own resolution this year.

              However, we share a common goal of early realization of nuclear abolition with each other. Therefore, while, taking all kinds of opportunities, Japan will continue to urge the US to ratify the CTBT as early as possible, as the US gets out of harmony with the international community in terms of environmental issues as well, Japan will tackle with nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in cooperation with the New Agenda for our common goal of early nuclear abolition.

Kaneko:             Senior-Vice Minister, you now say you want to cooperate with the New Agenda, which abstained this time. However, you didnft explain why it abstained this year. If you had really proposed a resolution strong enough and with clear emphasis upon the gunequivocal undertaking,h the New Agenda would have voted in favor. Why did they abstain? I assume the reason was that they considered Japan to have stepped back, as it wanted to be a good boy to the United States. You say in general terms that the New Agenda abstained. What do you think were the reasons for it?

Sugiura:             Honestly speaking, I cannot understand why they abstained. I can find no reason why they were not in favor.

Kaneko:I cannot accept your response, a Diet response by the name of our Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs. There was some time period between your submission of the resolution and its adoption. The Japanese UN Representative Office must have actively negotiated with the New Agenda in pursuit of their positive votes. You must have had their clear responses in such negotiations. You cannot respond here to me that you donft know why they abstained.

Sugiura:I mean I know the reason but I cannot understand it. I wished for their support.

Kaneko: Then, please explain the reason clearly.

Sugiura:The New Agenda argues as follows. Because, while Japanese resolution last year had the gunequivocal undertakingh in the preamble, it was shifted to the operative paragraph this year, the resolution of this year gives impression that the gundertakingh is not an established commitment but is something to be agreed upon in the future. Also there is another phrase on the ggeneral and complete disarmamenth in the same paragraph, which leads to an implication of the link between the gunequivocal undertakingh and the ggeneral and complete disarmament.h The NA resolution of the last year succeeded in separating the two by putting the commitment already made in the preamble and steps to be taken in the operative paragraph. However, Japanese resolution of this year jeopardizes such accomplishment last year.

We donft think our resolution will jeopardize the NAfs of last year, and tried to persuade them. But it was not successful. Such is my understanding.

Kaneko:In summary regarding this yearfs Japanese UNGA resolution, I want to point out that Japan has made a negative development for promoting the nuclear disarmament policy of Japan in the future in that the New Agenda severely criticized Japanese policy on one hand and the United States responded by gnoh vote on the other hand.

              Now I want to turn to the next subject. (Delete)

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