Diet members send Obama nuclear letter

by Masami Ito

A group of nonpartisan Diet members sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday urging him to strive to limit the role of America’s atomic weapons to that of nuclear deterrence.

The request doesn’t call for a total ban on the use of nuclear weapons but is intended to be a small but realistic step toward nuclear disarmament.

The letter asked Obama to state that the role of nuclear weapons should be limited to deterrence and asked that the U.S. nuclear policy not violate Japan’s three nonnuclear principles of not possessing, producing or permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons into the country.

With the Obama administration expected to submit the Nuclear Posture Review to Congress in March and the upcoming nuclear security summit in April, the lawmakers expressed hope that the letter may influence the nuclear policy of the U.S.

Lawmaker Hideo Hiraoka of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and six other Diet members from various parties handed the letter to U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos on Friday afternoon and asked that it be delivered to Obama.

“We strongly desire that the United States immediately adopt a declaratory policy stating that the ‘sole purpose’ of U.S. nuclear weapons is to deter others from using such weapons against the United States or U.S. allies,” the letter said, adding that the lawmakers were “firmly convinced that Japan will not seek the road toward possession of nuclear weapons if the U.S. adopts a ‘sole purpose’ policy.”

A total of 204 lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties, with the exception of the Japanese Communist Party, signed the letter, including former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki and former Environment and Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi.

According to the participants, JCP lawmakers, while supporting nuclear disarmament, declined to sign the letter because it did not go far enough.

Antinuclear activist Akira Kawasaki of Peace Boat Japan praised the letter as meaningful.