Let me begin by thanking you for convening this high-level meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
72 years ago, the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki claimed more than 200,000 lives. Those who initially survived continued to suffer the after-effects, leading to more deaths. Despite such human suffering, there remain approximately 15,000 nuclear warheads worldwide.
North Korea’s sixth nuclear test on 3 September presents a most grave and imminent threat, and is an egregious challenge to the international security as well as the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime. It is absolutely unacceptable. By unanimously adopting Resolution 2375 on 11 September, the Security Council imposed additional robust sanctions measures to send North Korea a clear message. North Korea must abide by relevant Security Council Resolutions and abandon its nuclear and missile development immediately.
Concerning nuclear disarmament, differences among the international community have unfortunately persisted. There is an increased need for cooperation between nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States. Japan has therefore established an international Group of Eminent Persons, coming from countries of different backgrounds, to provide recommendations for substantive advancement of nuclear disarmament. These recommendations will be presented in the next Preparatory Committee for the 2020 NPT Review Conference.
Japan firmly believes that practical and concrete measures are essential to promoting progress on nuclear disarmament. These measures should be based on a clear understanding of the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons and an objective assessment of the severe security environment facing the international community today.
With this in mind, Japan’s efforts will focus in particular on the following three areas:
First, with regard to the CTBT, Japan concluded its role as Article XIV Coordinator last Wednesday. However, this will not mark the end of our support. We will continue to lead international efforts on the early entry into force of the CTBT, in cooperation with relevant countries and the CTBTO. We will also work towards commencing negotiations on the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) at an early date.
Second, Japan, together with Germany, hosted a ministerial meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), a cross-regional group of non-nuclear weapon states, in New York last Thursday. All members reaffirmed their commitment to continued engagement on achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. Japan is determined to serve as a bridge between nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States by rebuilding confidence and trust.
Third, Japan will expand its efforts to explain the tragedies resulting from the use of nuclear weapons and to pass this knowledge on to future generations. As the only country to have suffered atomic bombings, Japan has the obligation to ensure that the strong wish by the Hibakusha, victims of the atomic bombs, for the total elimination of nuclear weapons are shared with all generations and all nations.
Japan will submit a draft resolution on the total elimination of nuclear weapons to the First Committee of the General Assembly this fall. This resolution will lay out practical and concrete measures that aim to improve cooperation and bridge the gap between nuclear and non-nuclear weapon States. We hope that this resolution will receive support from all member States.
Before concluding, I would like to announce that the 27th UN Conference on Disarmament Issues will be held in Hiroshima in November this year. Japan will continue to actively work for a world free of nuclear weapons through the UN. We look forward to working with everyone here today.
I thank you, Mr. President.