"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] Foreign Minister Yohei Kono's Speech at the NPT Review and Extension Conference

[Place] New York
[Date] April 18, 1995
[Source] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

Mr. President,

On behalf of the people of Japan, I have the honor to extend to Your Excellency my heartfelt congratulations on your election to the presidency of the NPT Review and Extension Conference. The Japanese delegation will spare no effort to cooperate with you as you discharge your important duties. The decision to be taken at this Conference regarding the period of extension of the Treaty will have a decisive impact on the nature of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and far- reaching implications for the peace and stability of the international community. It would therefore behoove us, the representatives of the States Parties assembled here, to consider and assess the roles which the NPT has played in the areas of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, not only from the standpoint of our respective countries, but also from the perspective of the future of humankind and of the planet on which we live.

Mr. President,

The NPT has played an important role as the central pillar of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. When the Treaty entered into force twenty-five years ago, there were in my country vigorous arguments against its ratification by those who cited its discriminatory nature. Nevertheless, Japan ratified the NPT in 1976, convinced of the important role which the Treaty was expected to play in stemming the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Today I can say in all confidence that this decision was the right one. For without the NPT, the number of the nuclear weapon States would surely be much greater than it is now, and the international community would be seriously destabilized.

The nuclear non-proliferation function of the NPT has not been without problems, however. Among the parties to the NPT we have witnessed, for example, the refusal to accept the IAEA safeguards, and the attempt to develop and newly acquire nuclear weapons. The fact that there are countries which remain outside the NPT and which are suspected of developing nuclear weapons is another serious problem. Also of concern from the viewpoint of nuclear non-proliferation is the reported smuggling of nuclear material in Europe last year.

On the other hand, the universality of the NPT has been greatly enhanced during the past five years. China and France acceded to the Treaty, and were joined by others, including Argentina and the Republic of South Africa. In addition, Ukraine and several other newly independent States which had been part of the Soviet Union, and in whose territory substantial numbers of nuclear weapons are present, have acceded to the NPT as non-nuclear weapon States. As a result of these accessions, the NPT is playing a greater role than ever before in nuclear non-proliferation.

Mr. President,

The task entrusted to the NPT is not limited to the field of nuclear non-proliferation; Article VI of the treaty requires nuclear weapon States to work toward nuclear disarmament. The record of accomplishments in this field over the past twenty-five years has not been satisfactory. As a matter of fact, by the late 1980s the arsenals of the nuclear weapon States had expanded to such a deplorable extent that they had the capacity to destroy the entire human race many tens of times over.

In this post-Cold War era, however, the situation would seem to be more promising. The United States and the Russian Federation have been engaged in a large-scale dismantling of their tactical nuclear weapons; moreover, they concluded START I which entered into force in December of last year, a truly historic achievement. I earnestly hope that START II will likewise enter into force as soon as possible. Recent progress in the negotiations on a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is also of great significance, not only for nuclear non-proliferation but also for nuclear disarmament. Japan is working to facilitate the early and successful conclusion of those negotiations by, for example, contributing seismological technologies for use in verification. At the same time, it is addressing the need to build an international framework for implementing the CTBT by, inter alia, conducting study programs for the training of seismology specialists in developing countries, and intends to strengthen such efforts. The continued suspension of nuclear tests by the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, and France is testimony of their commitment to the comprehensive ban on nuclear testing. I would like to strongly urge China to join the nuclear test moratorium.

Moreover, efforts are continuing by the countries concerned to launch negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. Japan welcomes the recent agreement to establish a committee for the negotiations. This Cut-Off Treaty will be an important step forward on the path to disarmament. Japan will contribute to the best of its ability to the earliest possible commencement of the substantive treaty negotiations and to their progress.

Mr. President,

The NPT also provides a basic framework for ensuring compatibility between nuclear non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The development and utilization of nuclear energy helps to ensure stability in the total supply of energy. Moreover, the use of nuclear energy has a far less adverse effect on the environment than fossil fuels. Japan promotes nuclear fuel recycling, which entails shipping nuclear material for overseas reprocessing, in an effort to ensure the efficient utilization of uranium, a precious and limited resource. Needless to say, utmost care must be taken to ensure that reprocessed nuclear and other materials are shipped safely. Japan has undertaken the shipment of these materials in fullest compliance with the standards and guidelines established by such international organizations as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

At the same time, Japan accepts the fullscope safeguards of the IAEA, testimony to its firm determination to strictly limit its development and use of nuclear energy to peaceful purposes. Last year, as the first country to publish information on the plutonium in its possession, Japan demonstrated its commitment to increase the transparency of its policies to ensure that it has the understanding of its people and the international community as it develops and utilizes nuclear energy.

International cooperation among the States Parties to the NPT in the field of the peaceful use of nuclear energy should be further promoted in accordance with the Treaty. Japan attaches particular importance to multilateral cooperation in the forum of the IAEA, and has contributed in the areas of personnel and financing to the relevant technical assistance funds and in accordance with the regional cooperation agreements covering the Asia-Pacific region. I reaffirm Japan's intention to continue to extend assistance to the best of its ability for human resources development and technological advancements in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

The IAEA safeguards have played a crucial role at the point of interface between the peaceful use of nuclear energy and nuclear non-proliferation. While the NPT does not require them to do so, Japan considers it desirable that the nuclear weapon States consider voluntarily applying the IAEA safeguards to all of their peaceful-use nuclear facilities.

Mr. President,

The international community is not free from the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Indeed, it may even be said that, in this post-Cold War world which is fraught with uncertainty, including the danger of regional conflict, concern over nuclear proliferation is greater than ever before. Under these circumstances, it is essential to ensure that the basic framework of nuclear non-proliferation is as strong as possible.

Japan has therefore concluded that the NPT should be extended indefinitely. It believes that the best way to respond to the threat of nuclear proliferation is first of all to consolidate the existing non-proliferation regime by making the NPT permanent. Inherent in a decision to extend the Treaty for a fixed period or periods is the possibility of its being terminated; in view of the importance of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, I believe that utmost efforts should be made to avoid that eventuality.,

Recently all of the nuclear weapon States publicly reaffirmed their positions on the security assurances to non- nuclear weapon States, and a Security Council resolution on this subject was adopted. I highly appreciate these achievements and hope that they will contribute to efforts toward an indefinite extension.

Mr. President,

The nuclear weapon States should promote further progress in nuclear disarmament; the indefinite extension of the NPT will establish a framework to facilitate such progress. The nuclear weapon States must bear in mind their obligation under Article VI of the NPT to pursue nuclear disarmament thereby responding to the trust placed in them by the absolute majority of non-nuclear weapon States which have renounced the option of nuclear armament in order to contribute to world peace and stability.

Mr. President,

With the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons as its objective, Japan has consistently stressed the importance of promoting realistic and steady nuclear disarmament measures. We regard the adoption by an overwhelming majority of Member States at last year's General Assembly of the resolution sponsored by Japan entitled "Nuclear disarmament with a view to the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons" as evidence of the wide understanding in the international community for this basic view.

I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to reiterate the following appeals: Japan calls upon States not parties to the NPT to accede to it at the earliest possible date; the nuclear weapon States should further pursue their efforts for nuclear disarmament with the ultimate objective of the elimination of nuclear weapons; and all States should fully implement their commitments in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to facilitate progress in nuclear disarmament.

Mr. President,

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II. Having learned lessons from the past, Japan, under its new Constitution promoting peace, renounced war as a means of settling international disputes, and has consistently worked for reconstruction as a peace-loving nation. In so doing, Japan has made the objective of securing world peace and prosperity the foundation of its foreign policy, and has worked tirelessly for the promotion of disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament. In a war that claimed countless thousands of victims and brought untold hardships to the people of many countries, Japan experienced the horrors of nuclear weapons. With their devastating power, nuclear weapons can in an instant take a tremendous toll in human life and deprive people of their local community structures; they can also cause the victims who survive an attack itself indescribable suffering due to atomic radiation and other lingering effects.,

Determined that nuclear weapons must never again be used, Japan has totally rejected the option of nuclear armament, and strictly observes the three non-nuclear principles of not possessing nuclear weapons, not producing them, and not permitting their introduction into Japan. In view of its tragic experiences in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan pursues the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons and has clearly forsworn to possess them. Its support for the indefinite extension of the NPT is an outgrowth of that position.

Japan believes that the indefinite extension of the NPT should be decided according to the general will of the States Parties assembled here, but if that is not possible, with the support of a large majority of States Parties. The NPT regime will be truly effective only if all States Parties render it their active support and are determined to maintain and strengthen it. I therefore wish to express once again my sincere hope that many States Parties share the views of Japan as I have presented them today, and that the Conference will decide to extend the NPT indefinitely.

Thank you very much.