Kishida to call for greater transparency of nuclear forces

Xinhua/Zhang Xiaoyu/Pool via REUTERS
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers a speech at his official residence in Tokyo, Japan July 14, 2022.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida plans to press world powers to provide greater transparency on their nuclear forces, and urge the United States and China to hold a dialogue on nuclear disarmament and arms control, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Kishida is expected to call for these steps in a speech at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference that starts on Monday in New York .

According to sources, arrangements also are being made to have political leaders from various nations discuss nuclear disarmament at a meeting to be held in Hiroshima in late November.

Kishida will be the first Japanese prime minister to attend an NPT review conference, which is held every five years, in principle, to review the operation of the treaty and assess nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation efforts.

Kishida, who has vowed to help realize a “world without nuclear weapons,” was elected from a constituency in Hiroshima City, which was devastated by an atomic bomb in 1945. He intends to advocate the importance of continuing efforts to reduce nuclear arms.

Kishida’s address will lay out a vision that connects the “ideal” of a world free of nuclear weapons with the “reality” of Japan’s harsh security environment.

The prime minister will position greater transparency of nuclear forces as being key to the reduction of nuclear weapons. In particular, Kishida is expected to prod each nation to disclose more information on their production of fissionable materials such as highly enriched uranium and plutonium, which can be used in nuclear weapons. Such a move would be especially directed at China, which has not provided important details such as the number of nuclear warheads it possesses and the volume of fissionable materials produced for weapons use.

According to the sources, Kishida also will mention Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and insist that any threat or use of nuclear weapons would be unacceptable.

In recognition of the fact that discussions on nuclear disarmament have made scant progress, Kishida likely will call for the “responsible involvement” of all nuclear-weapon powers in such talks.

Kishida also will emphasize the importance of the early ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the immediate commencement of negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty that would prohibit the production of such materials for use in nuclear weapons.

Kishida believes it is important that global political leaders, among others, visit the atomic-bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see the reality of the bombings at the actual scene.

Kishida is also expected to mention a proposed meeting of “international eminent persons,” which could feature the participation of former state leaders who still wield influence around the world. The meeting is intended to have attendees from nuclear powers and non-nuclear states.