WASHINGTON – Ahead of August’s 70th anniversaries of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some experts are calling on Japan to play a greater role in the effort toward global nuclear disarmament.
“The Japanese government could be more supportive of reductions (of nuclear arms) than it is,” said Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, a U.S. group aiming to create a nuclear-free world.
Cirincione, also a member of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s International Security Advisory Board, said U.S. government officials often stress that President Barack Obama needs support from U.S. allies in pushing his agenda of nuclear disarmament.
“If there was any ally who could play that role, it would be Japan,” Cirincione said.
“And it would be in 2015,” he added, referring to a review conference on the Nonproliferation Treaty to be held in April and May, as well as the 70th anniversaries of the nuclear bombings.
Hiroshima was devastated by a U.S. atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945, in the closing days of World War II, and Nagasaki followed the same fate three days later.
A world without nuclear weapons is not yet in sight, although the United States has reduced its stockpiles of nuclear warheads by more than 80 percent from the peak level in the midst of the Cold War.
Nuclear disarmament talks between the U.S. and Russia, which together still account for over 90 percent of all existing nuclear weapons in the world, have stalled.
Last year, relations between the two countries plunged to their lowest level since the Cold War, due to the Ukraine crisis.
Daryl Kimball, executive director at the Arms Control Association, a U.S. think tank, said that Japan and other U.S. allies “should be more vocal” about encouraging the U.S. and Russia to promote nuclear disarmament.
Kimball proposed a nuclear disarmament summit and said, “The year 2015 could be a very good year to start such a nuclear disarmament process,” citing the anniversaries of the atomic bombings. “Japan would be a very logical host country.”