Towards a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Northeast Asia*
In a little more than a month from now, we will be commemorating the 55th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The anniversary this year will be the last one to be observed in the 20th century.
Despite our ardent prayer that the nuclear weapons created in the 20th century willbe abolished before
the end of the century, more than 30,000 nuclear weapons exist on the earth today; they will continue toexist, albeit on somewhat reduced level, well into the 21st century. Human beings will therefore continue
to be threatened by the danger of nuclear holocaust just as in the past 55 years.
Today, ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, international politicalsituation has become even more complicated than ever before,making it extremely difficult for us to evaluate how much progress--or whether any progress--has really been made in nuclear disarmament. There
are so many conflicting facts about the state of nuclear weapons and so many contradictory assessments
concerning the prospect of nuclear disarmament. Let us then take a quick look at the recent developments in the world in general and in our Northeast Asia in particular.
1.Recent developments in the world
First about the recent developments in the world. Let me begin by briefly
reviewing the latest Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT (Treaty on the Non-
Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons) held in New York in April-May of this year. A great
importance was attached to the Conference because it was the first such conference
after the Treaty was extended indefinitely in 1995.
In examining the outcome of the Conference as it is contained in the Final
Document, we cannot help having mixed feelings, positive and negative, optimistic and pessimistic. Like all the previous ones, this Final Document was indeed the result of political compromises between nuclear-weapon States (NWS) and non-nuclear-weapon
States (NNWS), and as such it is full of complexities and ambiguities.
First of all, the Conference succeeded in enanciating "an unequivocal undertaking by nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals
leading to nuclear disarmament". This is a significant achievement, certainly much
better than saying merely "ultimate elimination" as in the past U.N.resolutions. But, in
spite of the strong demand of NNWSs spearheaded by the members of the New AgendaCoalition (NAC),
the Conference failed to set forth a clear time-frame for complete
nuclear disarmament, i.e. elimination.
The Conference also succeeded, for the first time, in stating the need of
"increased transparency" about nuclear weapon capabilities. This is clearly a very
important step forward. But again there is a serious loophole that the
"transparency" obligation of NWSs is on a "voluntary" basis.
The Conference referred to the "legally binding security assurances" by
NWSs that they will never use nuclear weapons against NNWSs parties
to the NPT. But there is no further elaboration of such assurances.
The Conference also mentioned the need of early negotiations on the so-called
"cut-off" treaty (fissile material cut-off treaty=FMCT), but failed to specify when such
negotiations should start, thus making way to the further procrastination.
By the sake token, as regards the comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT)
which was adopted nearly four years ago, it is still very far from
coming into force due to the failure to ratify it by several key States
such as China, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United
States of America. Only good news is that Russia has recently ratified the treaty on the strong personal initiative of the new President, Mr. Vladimir Putin. We earnestly hope that all other States which have not yet done so will ratify it as early
Outside the NPT Review Conference,one of the most controversial issues nowadaysis the national missile defence (NMD) and theater missile defence (TMD) programs
being pursued vigorously by the United States government. Both Russia and China are strongly opposed to these programs as well as any attempt to revise the 1972 Anti-
Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. They did not bring this sensitive issue into the NPT
Review Conference following the agreement not to do so reached among the five NWSs on the eve of the Conference. But their concerns are well reflected in the key words
"strategic stability" or "international stability" frequently used in the Final Declaration. These words seriously dilute whatever positive commitments the NWSs have made in theConference. We must therefore remain vigilant about what the NWSs will actually do -- or will not do -- towards nuclear disarmament in the future. There are many good
reasons to suspect that they will keep delaying nuclear disarmament process,while increasingeven the possibility of new nuclear arms race, indeed a "Second Nuclear Age".
2.Recent developments in Northeast Asia
Turning now to the situation in Northeast Asia, let me touch upon only a few of
recent political developmets which I consider important and relevant to our activities in
No doubt the most welcome event is the historic summit meeting that took place
in mid-June this year in Pyongyang between the top leaders of two Koreas, President Kim Dae-Jung and Secretary General Kim Jong-Il. Indeed, the importance of this summit
meeting can be compared to that of the fall of the Berlin Wall eleven years ago, as noted
by Japanese Prime Minister, Mr.Yoshiro Mori.
While it is premature to predict what will actually follow the Joint Declaration
issued in Pyongyang, we, citizens of Northeast Asia, strongly hope that closer dialogue and the spirit of cooperation between the two Koreas, set in motion so dramatically in
Pyongyang, will eventually lead to their national reconciliation and the relaxation of
tension in the Korean Peninsula.
Moreover, we, as their close neighbors, sincerely hope that in an emerging
amicable atmosphere within the region, the relationship between Japan and the
Democratic People´s Republic of Korea (DPRK) will also be normalized at the earliest
possible date so that we may build friendly relations between our two countries and
thereby contribute together to building a lasting peace among all the countries in North east Asia.
Elsewhere in Northeast Asia, however, there are other political developments whichwarrant our serious attention--such as the birth of a new government in Taiwan as a result of the election of a new, pro-independent President in mid-March this year. Grantedthat this is essentially an internal matter of China, we hope that both parties will try
to solve their problems not by the use of force but by the use of good sense.
In Japan, we have recently witnessed a number of important developments. The new guidelines of defence cooperation between Japan and the United States were
consolidated by a series of legislation last year. The two governments also agreed to
carry out joint studies on the feasibility of theater missile defence (TMD) program. AsI said earlier, this is a very sensitive issue. We are well aware of the reactions by the Chinese government to this issue. In fact, we too are worried about the nature of
political controversies on this issue going on within the United States in connection with
the forthcoming Presidential election in November.
In my view, as far as Northeast Asia is concerned, the NMD or TMD programs will become unnecessary if the political-military situation in North Asia improves
substantially, as now expected, as a result of the relaxation of tension within the
region, especially in the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Straits. If so, we should
direct our efforts more to the reduction of existing tensions rather than creating new
3. The role of IPPNW in Northeast Asia
It is precisely for this reason that I want to emphasize the special role that
IPPNW,as a responsible international NGO, should play--and can play--in fostering a
constructive atmosphere within the region. United, we will be able to make an effectivecontribution to that end.
What should we do, then? I have already presented my humble views and
suggestions before you on several previous occasions, first in Nagasaki in 1997, then inMelbourne in 1998 and most recently in Beijing in October 1999 when we met in the Second North Asia Regional Conference at the invitation of the Chinese Affiliate of
As you recall, in Beijing, I had the pleasure of presenting my own proposal for a"Northeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty". You will find the Skeleton of suchdraft Treaty in the proceedings of the Beijing Conference compiled by the Chinese
Affiliate. Therefore, without going into technical details, I beseech you to
read it again carefully.
Needless to say, this kind of regional agreement cannot be
concluded easily in the near future. After all, negotiations on such
treaty are the responsibility of the regional governments. Without theirpolitical will, nothing can be achieved. Regrettably it seems that most
of the governments in the region, including my own, are reluctant to
take actions at present. They are afraid of impairing their "strategic
stability" by premature actions.
4. What should we do beyond the 20th century?
But NGOs, such as IPPNW, are different. They can advocate the importance of peaceful approach,mobilize public opinion, and help
create a favorable political environment so that the governments
within the region may feel sufficiently encouraged or compelled to takenecessary actions. This is what IPPNW has done elsewhere in the past and achieved considerable successes. Now it is the time for usto stand up and meet the new challenge in Northeast Asia.
In this connection, I want to invite your special attention to the
penultimate paragraph of the Beijing Declaration on page 56 of the
Proceedings of the last North Asia Regional Conference. It is stated
"We encourage the establishment of nuclear-weapons-free zones especially within North Asia region. We recommend studies ata regional level to produce model agreements on these steps as
further progress towards the conclusion of a global Convention abolishing all nuclear weapons".
Following this recommendation, we at the Japanese Affiliate of
IPPNW have been taking preparatory steps for studies on the conceptof a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Northeast Asia, as I sketched inBeijing last year. For this purpose, we have applied for financial
help by a private foundation. If we are lucky enough to get the
help, we hope to inaugurate a small study group within the JapaneseAffiliate, with Dr. Kenjiro Yokoro and myself serving as its chairmanand vice-chairman respectively. We would also like to have the
cooperation of other regional affiliates and the IPPNW Central Office as much as possible. In any event, we will keep you fully informed of our activities as we hopefully proceed with our program of work.
Before concluding, Mr. Chairman, let me repeat on behalf of the Japanese delegation our continued commitment to the ideals of
IPPNW and our willingness to work harder beyond the 20th century for the early realization of a "Nuclear-Weapon-Free Northeast Asia"
and a "Nuclear-Weapon-Free World".
Thank you for your attention.
The Skeleton of a "Northeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty"
*This paper was originally presented at the Workshop on North Asia during the 14th World Congress of the International Physicians for
the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) held in Paris, June 29 - July 2, 2000.