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7 Japanese financial institutions had transactions with nuclear weapons firms: ICAN

Akira Kawasaki, a member of the International Steering Group of ICAN, speaks about the significance of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Naka Ward, Hiroshima, on Aug. 6, 2018, which marked the 73rd anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city. (Mainichi)

Seven Japanese financial institutions extended loans and investments totaling some 1.9 trillion yen to companies involved in the production of nuclear weapons over a four-year period up to 2017, a probe conducted by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) shows.

The finding has prompted ICAN, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017, to urge the seven financial institutions to stop their transactions with these companies, and two of them told the Mainichi Shimbun that they have already discontinued their dealings with the firms.

At the same time, however, an official at one of the other financial institutions pointed out that it is impossible to completely avoid such loans and investments.

The Netherlands-based PAX, which is a member of ICAN, conducted the probe. Specifically, PAX examined how 20 companies, which the organization has concluded were involved in the maintenance and modernization of nuclear armament to a certain extent, raised funds. The 20 include U.S.-based Aecom.

PAX then concluded that 329 financial institutions in 24 countries extended some 55 trillion yen in loans and investments to these 20 companies between January 2014 and October 2017. These financial institutions include the seven Japanese firms.

When contacted by the Mainichi Shimbun, two of the seven Japanese financial institutions answered that they no longer have transactions with these 20 businesses, while the five others declined to comment on any individual transaction.

These seven institutions claim they have internal regulations stipulating that their business practices must not be contrary to morality or that they must avoid extending loans for the production of weapons.

However, Akira Kawasaki, a member of the International Steering Group of ICAN, pointed out that no financial institutions in Japan have guidelines explicitly banning themselves from providing funds to companies producing nuclear arms.

An official of one of the seven institutions admitted that it is difficult to make a clear definition of companies producing nuclear weapons.

The 20 companies include aerospace giants such as U.S.-based Boeing Co. and European Airbus SE. However, the official finds it difficult for the institution to immediately stop extending loans and investments to these companies because these businesses manufacture not only military aircraft but also civilian planes.

Noting that the promotion of the nuclear weapons industry is part of national policy for nuclear powers aimed at increasing their nuclear deterrence, the official said that extending loans to such businesses is just like loaning to the governments of these countries.

(Japanese original by Asako Takeuchi, Tokyo City News Department)

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