"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Statement by Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama at the Conference on Disarmament

[Place] Geneva
[Date] June 6, 1991
[Source] DIPLOMATIC BLUEBOOK 1991, Japan's Diplomatic Activities, pp. 450-462
[Full text]

Madam President,

It is a great pleasure for me to have the honor of addressing the Conference on Disarmament, a forum with a distinguished history.

First of all, on behalf of the Japanese Government, I should like to take this opportunity to express my high respect for our President, Ambassador Soles by, under whose excellent leadership, backed up by her brilliance and rich experience, we are meeting here today. I should also like to express my high respect for all the distinguished delegates at this Conference, for their important and painstaking efforts in trying to bring the world closer to the achievement of our disarmament goals.

Madam President,

Attending this Conference, I cannot but help recall the time seven years ago when, in the same month of June Mr. Shintaro Abe, whom I respect as a senior statesman and diplomat of Japan, attended and addressed this Conference as the first Foreign Minister of Japan to do so.

I have two reasons for mentioning this. First, former Minister Abe, whose untimely decease was regretted by many in Japan, and I used to share a deep understanding and beliefs on various matters related to arms control and disarmament. Having assumed my present post in August 1989, I have been directing the conduct of Japan's foreign policy in these years of drastically changing world relationships. I have visited various nations and discussed with many world leaders the problems related to the future direction of mankind. Through such talks I have endeavoured to promote world peace, arms control and disarmament as contribution in these fields is one of Japan's basic foreign policy objectives. At the same time, I have become even more convinced of the importance of these objectives. Therefore, it has been my strong desire to have an opportunity to come here and attend this Conference in order to share ideas with you.

The second reason for recalling the visit of former Minister Abe arises from the striking contrast between the world of 1984 and the present. On the one hand, when we look back at the past seven years, the extent of the changes that took place in international relations which indeed surpassed anybody's imagination, becomes apparent. On the other hand, it becomes clear that peace and disarmament were matters of urgent concern in 1984 as well as today. When we take into account these two aspects, the future direction of arms control and disarmament may become discernible.

With respect to international relations, the year 1984 found itself in the midst of severe tension between East and West, between the United States and the Soviet Union. Reflecting this situation, arms control and disarmament efforts were bound to meet with frustration, despair and grave concerns. Then, as is well known, the latter half of the eighties witnessed the beginning of a change in East-West relations in part due to changes in the Soviet Union, after the arrival of President Gorbachev on the political stage. The change in East-West relations has been dramatically accelerated in the past year or two by such events as the democratization of East European states and the crumbling of the Berlin Wall that symbolized "the iron curtain," whose fall led to the unification of Germany and the signing of the Charter of Paris for a New Europe. The change that took place was truly historical and epoch-making. Furthermore, the Gulf Crisis that broke out under such changing international relations has demonstrated how the international community, centered around the United Nations and assisted by the cooperative relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union, can successfully and unanimously deal with an aggressor state. This example may herald the beginning of a new era in the international political sphere.

Every transitional period in history is accompanied by the predominant factors of instability, uncertainty and the lack of transparency which arise out of the breakdown of the old framework and the complex interplay of old and new forces. Unfortunately, this common fact seems to be present also at this time of history. In the field of arms control and disarmament, the change in East-West political relations has borne a fruit in the form of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. However, it is a fact that in the course of half a year after the signing of the treaty up to the recent agreement concerning its implementation at the U.S.-Soviet foreign ministerial meeting, the process for its ratification has been complicated and delayed due to some important issues that had arisen. Similarly, the START negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union, after entering into the final stage, are hanging uncertainly with regard to the timing of their conclusion. In addition, the experience of the Gulf Crisis clearly has demonstrated to all of us the need for urgent and serious arms control and disarmament efforts in two areas. The non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missiles is one such area, although this is an area where efforts have already been made to some extent in the past. The international transfer of conventional arms is another such area, however, where no concrete steps have been taken in the past in spite of repeated discussions on the matter from various angles.

Other serious issues requiring solution have also emerged in connection with the implementation of disarmament measures. For example, what should be done about the question of the transfer of arms from one region to another as a result of the disarmament arrangements in the former region? What are the security implications of such transfer to the latter region? What about the ecological problems resulting from the destruction of chemical weapons?

Thus, we find ourselves in the midst of a transitional period where sweeping changes in international relations are taking place. Achievements in the arms control and disarmament field, facilitated by such changes in international relations, have to be made irreversible and pushed further ahead. Unaccomplished tasks left over from the past should be brought up in order to find solutions in the new context. It is a time when all the persistent and indefatigable efforts on our part are required for that purpose.

Precisely for this reason, I believe that the role of the Conference on Disarmament has become more important than ever before, and that the world's expectations for this forum have risen to new heights.

Here in Geneva, one may have to recall the fact that the Conference on Disarmament, in contrast to its productive years in the sixties and seventies, has failed to produce a single disarmament treaty in recent years. On the other hand, it is also a fact that in these same years an epoch-making endeavour has been made assiduously in order to draw up a chemical weapons prohibition convention. This endeavour is truly epoch-making as the convention is to be equipped with a strict and complex verification regime and the negotiations are in fact approaching the final stage. Now that the Cold War which could have had delayed the negotiations, is becoming a thing of the past, the time is ripe for new achievements. The goal must be achievable and should be achieved. If and when we succeed in concluding a multilateral disarmament convention with the active participation of developing states, the accomplishment will have no less significance than the recently concluded bilateral and regional disarmament agreements. This accomplishment would also be a significant instrument in bridging the perception gap between developed and developing nations with regard to the approach and the progress of disarmament process. In this sense, the Conference on Disarmament is now being challenged to prove its raison d'etre.

Madam President,

I should now like to take up the question of weapons of mass destruction with which the work of the Conference on Disarmament is closely linked. Considering the time and the place, it would be only natural to begin with the problems of chemical weapons upon which I have already touched.

More than sixty years have passed since the use of chemical weapons was banned by the Geneva Protocol, and more than twenty years since chemical weapons became a subject of this forum. Precisely when the negotiations to eliminate these inhumane weapons appeared to be approaching the final stage, the Gulf Crisis broke out. The threat of the use of these very weapons by Iraq heightened the desire of the international community for an early conclusion of the convention to a level never reached before. It is now imperative to conclude the long-standing negotiations as early as possible, without losing the momentum created by the Gulf Crisis. I sincerely hope that all the delegates here will make all-out efforts for this purpose.

In this connection, the latest forthcoming position of the United States announced by President Bush represented a courageous undertaking aimed at global elimination of chemical weapons. Japan heartily welcomes this initiative.

I am aware that there are some proposals for the Conference on Disarmament to be convened at the ministerial level in order to give political impetus to the negotiations. Basically, I am in agreement with the idea because this may be the way to achieve breakthrough in some of the pending important issues and to expedite the negotiations. However, such a ministerial conference would not be able to achieve its expected objectives unless issues requiring political solutions are sufficiently narrowed down and crystallized, paving the way for appropriate political settlements. As for myself, I will be willing to attend such a ministerial conference and do my best, if all the delegates here, who are top disarmament negotiators of respective nations, prepare the grounds with utmost care and if they ask for such a ministerial level exercise by consensus.

With regard to this, I should like to make a proposal. Perhaps we should consider convening a meeting in Geneva at the level of high officials from nations' capitals. This may become appropriate at a certain advanced stage of the negotiating efforts. Such a meeting at the level of high officials, possibly before the end of this year, may help in moving the negotiations a step further and help in the planning of a ministerial conference.

Of course, whatever the level of a meeting or a conference may be, it would be difficult or even unrealistic to try to draw up a convention that would be 100% satisfactory to all the states parties. Therefore, in putting forward my proposal I should like to urge all states to demonstrate a spirit of compromise to the maximum extent, fully realizing the ultimate goals of the convention. This would be indispensable for an early conclusion of the negotiations.

In conjunction with the new moves as I have just mentioned which are meant to facilitate breakthroughs in the negotiations, it would be important for the governments of states parties to the negotiations to seek understanding and cooperation from their nationals concerning this convention. Only in this way can nations ensure the smooth implementation of the convention in their territories, including effective and reasonable implementation of verification and inspection measures. For this purpose, it would also be important for governments to study and carry out practicability exercises. From this viewpoint, my government is planning for the second time to carry out a trial inspection of facilities dealing with chemicals to be limited by the convention during the current fiscal year. Through the experience and insight to be acquired in this trial inspection, we should like to make a contribution to the establishment of a reliable verification and inspection system.

I should also like to touch upon the question of the universality of the convention. Unfortunately, there is no panacea that would ensure a universal adherence to the convention. Each nation will have to accede to the convention on the basis of its political commitment to eliminate chemical weapons from the surface of the earth. In this sense, it would be important to prepare such a convention that would convince all nations that their security would be enhanced by acceding to it. With respect to those nations who still refuse to accede to the convention, it would be important to continue diplomatic efforts of persuasion and to make them realize the high costs they would have to pay by remaining outside the convention. With all the wisdom we have gathered and will gather, we must come up with a formula that will meet these requirements.

As I have been explaining, Japan is for an early conclusion of the convention and as was announced during the last session of the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, Japan will become one of the original signatory states of the convention. On this occasion, I wish to express the hope that all those states that have not done so will make similar announcements and that all the states possessing chemical weapons will make announcements admitting the fact. By doing this, we can give the convention firm ground on which to stand and build confidence in the idea of the elimination of chemical weapons.

In this connection, the task of the elimination of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons now being carried out by the United Nations Special Commission, consisting of experts from various nations of which Japan is one, is indeed a momentous task. It will serve, let us hope, as a valuable experiment upon which the future elimination of chemical weapons under the convention may be modelled. The task of the Special Commission will be full of difficult technical and financial problems, including the question of the prevention of harmful environmental effects. Japan is willing to contribute in an appropriate manner, to the carrying out of the task of the Special Commission.

Madam President,

I feel obliged to raise, as the next topic, the issue of nuclear weapons, of which the dangers of proliferation were brought home to our minds afresh during the Gulf Crisis. I feel obliged because, as the only nation against which atomic bombs were used, Japan has a serious interest in the non-proliferation and the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons.

As is well known, the Non-Proliferation Treaty is one of the greatest achievements having come out of this multilateral disarmament negotiating forum. Today, in order to strengthen the NPT regime, urgent efforts have to be made on two fronts, in promoting accession to the Treaty by non-states parties, and in securing full implementation of the treaty obligations. As to the first front, Japan has been making demarches to non-states parties over the years, whether they are nuclear-weapons states or not, to accede to the Treaty. In this regard, we welcome and highly regard the decision by France to accede to the NPT in principle and strongly hope that this will promote the early accession by other non-states parties to the Treaty. As to the second front, Japan intends to make concrete proposals to the IAEA and other appropriate fora to increase the effectiveness of the IAEA safeguards system because the need for its strengthening was one of the lessons we learned from the Gulf Crisis. At the same time, Japan is strongly urging one of the states parties that has not yet concluded the safeguards agreement with the IAEA to do so. Furthermore, in connection with the two-fronts efforts I have just mentioned, Japan adopted and announced a policy in early April to the effect that, in extending Official Development Assistance the trend in the recipient country of the development and production of weapons of mass destruction and missiles will be taken into account, in order to strengthen efforts to prevent the proliferation of these weapons.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, adhered to by more than 140 states, has contributed to the maintenance of peace and stability in the world. In view of the importance of the NPT regime, Japan strongly supports a substantial extension of the Treaty beyond 1995. At the same time, recalling the oft cited discrimination between nuclear weapons states and non-nuclear weapon states in this Treaty, such discrimination will have to be abolished gradually through further sincere efforts towards nuclear disarmament on the part of nuclear weapons states, gradually because it is a fact that the peace and stability of the world today still continue to rely upon deterrence and the balance of military power including nuclear weapons.

Turning to the question of a comprehensive nuclear test ban, which is one aspect of nuclear disarmament, we may recall the Fourth NPT Review Conference of last year, where arguments were made that there should be a linkage between the realization of a CTB and the extension of the NPT. What has to be taken into consideration is not only the question of a CTB, but the overall progress of nuclear disarmament. In this context, I highly value the full implementation of the INF Treaty, and strongly hope for an early conclusion of the START Treaty as well as for its further continuation in the new round of talks of U.S.-Soviet nuclear disarmament. Of equal importance is the progress towards the next stage of the U.S.-Soviet Nuclear Testing Limitation Talks. In addition, the three other nuclear weapons states, aside from the United States and the Soviet Union, may be asked to seriously address the question of nuclear disarmament. Also, I should like to remind the Conference that Foreign Minister Abe proposed in 1984 a step-by-step formula as a way to achieve a CTB. Japan continues to uphold the proposal as the most realistic choice in pursuing a CTB within the framework of overall nuclear disarmament.

In this respect, I should like to pay a high tribute to the resumption of substantive works by the Nuclear Test Ban Ad Hoc Committee that was re-established last July at the Conference on Disarmament after a seven year interval. Ambassador Donowaki of my country chaired the Ad Hoc Committee last year. This year again, I am told, the Committee is engaged in a lively in-depth discussion of the subject under the chairmanship of Ambassador Chadha of India. May I express the hope that, through such a dialogue between the nuclear weapons states and non-nuclear weapons states common understanding will be deepened. Based upon such understanding, I hope that concrete and feasible steps will be discussed in order to bring us closer to the final goals of a CTB.

I should also like to say a few words about the Ad Hoc Group of Scientific Experts of the Conference on Disarmament created for the purpose of establishing a seismic verification system that would supplement a nuclear test ban. Japan, as one of the nations with advanced seismology-related technologies including seismic detection technology, has been actively participating in, and contributing to the work of the group over the years. I have high respect for the work of the group. This year, the group is to carry out GSETT-2 - the second large scale test - of the global data exchange system as a critical test in their search for the establishment of an international detection network of underground nuclear testings. I hope that the test will meet with success. At the same time, may I express the hope that the Conference will give full consideration to the possible future tasks to be taken up by the Group of Scientific Experts.

Madam President,

Last week the United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues was held in the ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto. The main theme of the Conference was "A Post-Cold War and Post-Gulf War International System and Challenges to Multinational Disarmament." A number of participants from both abroad and Japan, including cabinet ministers and some of the ambassadors present here, participated in lively discussions. Prime Minister Kaifu personally undertook the initiative to host the conference in Japan, attended the conference and delivered a speech. This was in realization of the renewed importance of such issues as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the international transfer of conventional weapons as a result of the Gulf Crisis. In other words, one may say that, as the East-West confrontation relaxes and as regional conflicts become less likely to be regarded as proxy conflicts between East and West, the danger of the outbreak of regional conflicts may be increasing. Under such circumstances, we have been reminded of the importance of the question of how to deal with the proliferation and transfer of weapons. I am confident that the Kyoto Conference will serve as a catalyst in stimulating arms control and disarmament discussions here at the Conference on Disarmament, as well as at the United Nations and other fora.

Madam President,

I should like now to take up the question of the international transfer of conventional arms which became one of the important themes at the Kyoto Conference. Japan announced in March of this year a package proposal entitled the "Japanese Near-term Responses to the Problems in the Middle East." With respect to the issue of the international transfer of conventional weapons, the proposal made clear that, first, Japan would contribute, mainly within the framework of the United Nations, to the activities related to establishing standards and rules including a reporting system to the U.N. with a view to enhancing the transparency and openness of arms transfers. Second, Japan made clear its willingness to call on nations exporting conventional weapons to consider improving and strengthening their legal and administrative frameworks for voluntary restriction on exports of such weapons. The former proposal is based upon the realization that, in cases where there is a dangerous accumulation of arms beyond the need for self-defense, enhanced transparency and openness of arms transfers may serve the purpose of an early warning to the international community of the dangerous situation. This may be regarded as an informational measure to prevent regional conflicts. Also, this may be a form of confidence building measures, and in a broader sense one of arms control issues. The latter proposal is based upon the realization that an excessive accumulation of conventional weapons in a certain region, upsetting the military balance and threatening the outbreak of an armed conflict, ought to be prevented by the voluntary restraint of nations mainly on the supply side of arms. This may be regarded as one of the practical measures to prevent regional conflicts within the framework of arms control issues.

As is well known, measures to increase the transparency of arms transfers is a subject currently under study by a group of experts including one from Japan in accordance with a United Nations General Assembly resolution introduced by Colombia and other member states in 1988. The result of their study will be presented in the coming session of the United Nations General Assembly. As we stated in the above mentioned initiative and also as was clearly stated by Prime Minister Kaifu at the Kyoto Conference, Japan intends to submit to the United Nations General Assembly, at its next session, a draft resolution that would contribute to establishing standards and rules, including a reporting system to the United Nations of the international transfer of conventional arms. In this draft resolution the report of the U.N. Study Group will naturally be taken into account. Furthermore, I understand that this problem was also discussed during the last United Nations Disarmament Commission's session in New York and that the United Kingdom made a valuable proposal regarding the establishment of a United Nations data registration system of arms transfers. It would be useful for nations sharing the same idea to get together and to come up with a joint draft resolution. In addition, Japan will be ready, should the need arise, to contribute in an appropriate manner to the upgrading and expanding of the database system of the United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs so that the database will be able to cover data on arms transfers as well.

As to the question of the export of conventional weapons, I took it upon myself to raise the issue of self-restraint to the foreign ministers of major arms exporting countries. Compared with the question of weapons of mass destruction, views of nations are more divergent on the question of the international transfer of conventional weapons. Therefore, it is my belief that the most realistic approach to this question should be to begin with the consideration of the strengthening of the self-restraint mechanism on the part of arms exporting states.

In this sense, I highly value the Middle East arms control initiative announced last week by President Bush as a courageous attempt to tackle the intricate issue of arms transfers. The initiative calls for the establishment of guidelines for restraint and of a consultation mechanism among the five leading arms exporting countries. Japan wishes to see an early materialization of the initiative by five states. At the same time, Japan considers it important that in the future other major arms supplier states will also participate in the new restraint system and that its scope will be expanded globally. Japan, as a nation that has long been strictly controlling arms exports on the basis of what we call the Three Principles of Arms Exports, will do its utmost in contributing to international efforts aimed at the achievement of such a goal.

The final point I should like to raise concerning the issue of arms transfers is the importance of solving political confrontations and conflicts existent in individual regions in question. Needless to say, the conclusion of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, which is the first treaty in the field of conventional weapons disarmament after the Second World War, became possible only after the sweeping changes in the structure of East-West political confrontation. Nations possess military power and stand against each other as a reflection of political confrontation. The CFE Treaty has eloquently proven that it is possible to decrease military confrontation in proportion to the degree of the solution of political confrontation. That is to say, in order to promote arms control and disarmament measures substantially in any given region, including the issue of international arms transfers, it is indispensable to resolve political confrontation. The resolution reduces to a large extent the incentive to acquire arms on the side of importing countries of conventional weapons.

It should be said that the transfer of conventional weapons is closely linked to each country's right to self-defense. Indeed, conventional weapons are already widely spread. Furthermore, there is a trend for the proliferation of the manufacturing capabilities of such arms. There is a limit, one has to admit, to what can be done in this field. Therefore, from my experience as a student of medical science, I think it vitally important to apply both "symptomatic treatment" and "eradicative cure" in such a case. In other words, we must apply what may be termed as symptomatic treatment, such as increasing the transparency of transfers of conventional weapons and exercising self-restraint in arms exports. Together with this, there is a need for diplomatic efforts to solve political issues. The latter may be regarded as the eradicative cure aimed at improving body conditions. Application of both methods must be the only way to deal with the problem. Japan is determined to continue both forms of efforts in cooperation with other countries.

Madam President,

I have just tried to analyze recent developments in the world and describe Japan's position on problems in the field of arms control and disarmament which require urgent action. At present, with the Cold War receding, the world is entering an important period of establishing a new international order. Having experienced two world wars, the entire world community of the twentieth century is still faced with the great and challenging task of how to build an international order of peace and stability. This new international order should guarantee a free, creative and prosperous society, long dreamt of by mankind. We are still in a period of transition intermingled with light and dark patches. However, we may say that we are beginning to hear the steady beating of such an international order. Recalling that the approaching twenty-first century is the first chapter of the new millennium or even of the following millennia for mankind. I tremble with the thought of our great responsibility to our progeny. Recognizing these historic perspectives and responsibility at this place today, should we not continuously and patiently strive to accomplish our noble tasks in arms control and disarmament during the remaining precious decade before the turn of the century?

I am determined to continue these efforts in cooperation with you.

Thank you very much for your attention.