Japan's vote against a resolution calling for the start of negotiations to outlaw nuclear weapons at the U.N. General Assembly's First Committee on Oct. 27 took place out of a desire to appease the United States, which strongly opposed the resolution.
Despite being the only atomic bombed nation in the world, Japan, which has been protected under the so-called nuclear umbrella of the U.S., had been a self-anointed "bridge" between nuclear powers and non-nuclear states. But with its vote against the most recent nuclear disarmament resolution, it is bound to come under attack by non-nuclear nations and civic organizations calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
"(The resolution) is incongruent with our country's basic position of building up practical measures," Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Oct. 28. He added that Japan had been in contact with the U.S., indicating that Japan's dependence on the U.S. nuclear umbrella was a consideration in how Japan chose to vote.
Ambassador Toshio Sano, head of the Permanent Delegation of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament, said, "To promote nuclear arms reductions, it is indeed necessary for nuclear powers and non-nuclear powers to cooperate with each other." He thus expressed concern that a conflict between various countries over the pact could adversely affect moves toward achieving the ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament.
Akira Kawasaki, who is on the international steering committee of the nongovernmental organization International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), was watching the proceedings in person. He criticized the Japanese government's move.
"That Japan voted against the resolution means that it stands on the side of nuclear states. It means that Japan is going from being an A-bombed country to an ally of nuclear states," he said.
An associate professor at Hiroshima City University's Hiroshima Peace Institute, Yasuhito Fukui, commented, "Japan will come under fire for voting against the resolution while at the same time saying that it's aiming for nuclear disarmament. Japan should have abstained from voting."