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Japanese Anglicans and ecumenical groups welcome UN nuclear weapon ban treaty

Posted on: February 22, 2021 12:20 PM
A nuclear explosion captured by US authorities during the Upshot-Knothole / Badger weapons testing exercise on 18 April 1953 at the Nevada Test Site Credit:
Photo Credit: US National Nuclear Security Administration / Nevada Site Office

Religious leaders in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are welcoming the entry into force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The treaty is a multilateral legally binding instrument for nuclear disarmament in two decades. It was approved by 122 nations at the UN General Assembly in 2017; and came into force on 22 January after Honduras became the 50th nation to ratify it.

The world’s main nuclear powers – the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and France – have not signed the accord; and neither has Japan, the only country to have endured the use of nuclear weapons used against it. Japan’s Christian Council says it “regrets” the lack of support from the Japanese government.

Japan has long renounced its own possession, production and hosting of nuclear weapons; but Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that it wants to pursue a steady and realistic path toward nuclear disarmament; and says that this treaty is the way to do it.

The Chair of the Nagasaki Christian Council, Mark Takao Shibamoto, is the priest at the Nipon Sei Ko Kai (Anglican Church in Japan) Holy Trinity Church in Nagasaki. He said: “We would like to be entirely supportive [of the treaty]. It is frustrating that the government is not supportive. I feel that there is a gap in priorities and values.”

The National Christian Council in Japan has called upon the government of Japan to “sign the nuclear weapons ban treaty as soon as possible”, saying that the treaty is “a major step in humanity’s long walk toward hope and ideal”.

In a declaration released on 22 January, the Hiroshima Religious Federation, a group that includes communities of Shintoism, Buddhism and Christianity, said that they “wholeheartedly welcomed” the treaty and “pray that more countries and regions will adopt this treaty and move forward to the total abolition of nuclear weapons”.

The declaration concluded by stating: “we appeal to all around the world. We do not need nuclear weapons! Let us raise our voices together for the total abolition of nuclear weapons from around the world. Let us move forward together on the road toward the total abolition of nuclear weapons.”