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Lobbying the Japanese Government regarding the UN resolution and emphasizing Japan’s responsibility as the A-Bombed Country

Japanese NGOs are increasing the pressure on their government in order to make them submit a sympathetic report to the UN Secretary General in line with last December's General Assembly Resolution.
21 May 2008 - Katsumi Furitsu

Japanese members of ICBUW are actively lobbying our Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and urging them to submit a report to the UN Secretary General. We hope that the report will reflect the results of the most recent scientific research that shows the harmful effect that the fine particles of depleted uranium (DU) produced by DU weapons have on human health and the environment.

Meeting with the Japanese MFA
ICBUW members hand over materials to members of the Japanese MFA.

On April 17, Haruko Moritaki and Katsumi Furitsu, Japanese members of the ICBUW Steering Committee in Japan, met with Mr. Yasunari Morino, Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Division of the MFA, together with the members of several Japanese ICBUW supporter-groups. Two supportive Members of Parliament, Ms. Mizuho Fukushima, President of the Social Democratic Party, and Mr. Shoichi Kondo from the Democratic Party were also present at the meeting and together urged the MFA to take positive action towards a ban on uranium weapons.

Japanese ICBUW members handed over a letter of requests to the MFA (see the following excerpt):

“We strongly expect that UN member states will seriously discuss the effects of the use of DU weapons and take further steps for a ban on these weapons, following the successful disarmament process of the other inhumane weapons of indiscriminate destruction - anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions.

DU weapons are not nuclear weapons. However, DU is radioactive material, which is clearly subscribed to be under strict control in Japanese domestic law. The Japanese government should understand fully that the use of DU weapons has contaminated the environment and both soldiers and civilians have been exposed to DU. The Japanese government should positively and actively study the environmental and health effects of the use of DU weapons. Japan should take responsibility for preventing further radioactive contamination of the environment and irradiation of people, as it is the only country that has had the tragic experience of atomic-bomb attacks during the war. Making an effort in this direction should also be one of Japan’s international missions, in as much as Japan has such a beautiful Peace Constitution, declaring as it does in its preamble ‘the right to live in peace’ for ‘all peoples of the world.’

We request that the Japanese government do the following:

1. Submit a well-considered report to the UN Secretary General after collecting and referring to all the results of the most recent scientific research, including basic experimental data, and to actively participate in international discussions on the issue.

2. To propose a draft resolution at the First Committee and the plenary session of the 63rd UN General Assembly that includes a request that UN member states refrain from using armaments and ammunition containing depleted uranium until studies to determine the effects of such armaments and ammunitions on human health and the environment are completed.

3. To take a positive role in the international discussion for a ban on uranium (?) weapons and to fulfil the responsibility Japan has as a country that has had the disastrous experience of the A-bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and also has a Peace Constitution.”

At the meeting on April 17, ICBUW members also handed over materials which had been presented at the “Towards a Uranium Weapons Treaty Workshop” in Geneva on April 2, and a newly published book “A World without Uranium Weapons: The ICBUW Challenge” and so on. Mr. Morino said that they would take these materials into consideration.

The Japanese government voted in favour of the UN resolution on DU weapons last year. The MFA is now drafting a report to the UN and is consulting with the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. This is a critical moment for them with respect to whether or not they will change their previously negative policy on the issue. Their stance has always been to “await official reports from relevant international organizations,” allowing them to make the excuse that “no definitive conclusions have been reached”.

Through ICBUW’s patient lobbying, several suprapartisan MPs, including two MPs in different ruling parties, have recently started to hold workshops to discuss the issue of DU weapons. Japanese ICBUW members are continuously lobbying the MFA and planning further actions. Similar actions by ICBUW members and supporters have taken place in various countries around the world – in Belgium, Germany, Finland, and New Zealand - to name a few. It is of critical importance that groups bring domestic and international pressure to bear on governments at this time.