Photo/IllutrationThe Asahi Shimbun

The Japanese government said on Feb. 3 that it “highly appreciates” the Trump administration's new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which effectively abandons the ideal of realizing a nuclear-free world.

Tokyo welcomed the 2018 NPR, released on Feb. 2, which expands the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons, because it emphasizes that the United States will strengthen its commitment to the security of its allies.

However, in cities devastated by atomic bombings in 1945, citizens expressed a backlash against the latest NPR.

“It is going against the wishes of not only the citizens in atomic bombed cities but also those on the Earth,” said Shigemitsu Tanaka, chairman of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivors Council. “Other countries that have nuclear weapons, including North Korea, will promote nuclear development further.”

The Japanese government’s stance again clearly showed its reliance on the U.S. nuclear umbrella and other weapons.

On Feb. 3, the Japanese government issued a statement under the name of Foreign Minister Taro Kono in response to the 2018 NPR, the first since the 2010 NPR under the Obama administration.

Mentioning the continued development of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, the statement said that the international security environment “has been rapidly worsened since the release of the previous 2010 NPR.”

The new NPR said that nuclear weapons play a role in offering a feeling of relief to U.S. allies and suggested that the United States will strengthen the role.

As for the point, the Japanese government appreciated it, saying in its statement, “(The latest NPR) clearly articulates the U.S. resolve to ensure the effectiveness of its deterrence and its commitment to providing extended deterrence to its allies, including Japan.”

In the NPR, the United States also expressed its commitment to continuing efforts toward the ultimate global elimination of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, strengthening of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime, and pursuing security conditions that could enable further nuclear reductions.

Tokyo also noted the point and added in its statement, “Japan will continue to closely cooperate with the United States to promote realistic and tangible nuclear disarmament.”

Japan’s stance of calling for the eradication of nuclear weapons while relying on the U.S. nuclear umbrella seems a contradiction.

“The government has a responsibility to protect the people’s peace and security in a realistic manner," Kono has told reporters. "Nuclear deterrence and nuclear disarmament are not contradictory.”

In 2017, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted at the United Nations. A nongovernmental organization, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which worked for its adoption, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts.

Toshiyuki Mimaki, 75, a vice director of the Hiroshima prefectural council of A-bomb sufferers organizations, who visited Oslo in December for the Peace Prize awards ceremony, said, “I’m extremely angry.”

Kunihiko Sakuma, 73, director of a different anti-nuclear group of the same name, criticized the Japanese government for its stance.

“The government is saying that it will serve as a bridge between countries that have nuclear weapons and countries that do not have them. But it is completely compliant to the United States. Japan will lose international trust,” he said.