Japan criticises Russia over nuclear arms, will use G7 summit to call for abolition
- Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says Moscow must accept the blame for refusing to sign an update to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
- Kishida’s push for global denuclearisation could be ‘too ambitious’ and could weaken him politically, analysts note
Analysts caution, however, that while such positions on both Russia and nuclear weapons are largely popular at home, the likelihood of other nations – including allies – willingly dismantling their atomic arsenals is negligible. As a result, Kishida must tread carefully and be aware that pushing forward with demands that the G7 then ignores could serve to weaken him politically.
Kishida’s bitter disappointment was clear on Saturday, when he said Moscow must accept the blame for the outcome document at the NPT review conference remaining unsigned after a month of talks.
“It is extremely regrettable that no consensus was reached due to the opposition of one country, which is Russia,” Kishida said via video link from his official residence, where he is quarantined after contracting the coronavirus.
Undeterred, Kishida said progress at the New York meeting was “proof that many countries are of the view that maintaining and strengthening the NPT regime is beneficial for the whole of the international community”.
He emphasised that he was not ready to give up on a policy that, as a politician representing a constituency in Hiroshima – the target of the first atomic bomb – was close to his heart.
“I want to boost momentum in the international community towards the realisation of a world without nuclear weapons,” he said, indicating that the issue would be on the table at the G7 summit next year.
“While I do expect him to continue to call for denuclearisation internationally, I fear that is a target that is just too ambitious to be realised,” Ito added.
Stephen Nagy, an associate professor of international relations at Tokyo’s International Christian University, said convincing other governments to do away with arguably their most potent weapons was unlikely to gain traction.
“But this also means he needs to move forward delicately,” he added.
“The G-7 meeting will give him an opportunity to speak to his agenda, but whether he will be able to gain any traction is a different story,” Nagy pointed out.
“Kishida must be careful that he does not put on the table at the G7 something that is immediately a non-starter. It’s fine for him to talk about denuclearisation and non-proliferation, but it could damage him when it gets no buy-in.”