JOINT STATEMENT BY THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI ON THE ENTRY INTO FORCE OF THE TREATY ON THE […]
ON THE ENTRY INTO FORCE OF THE TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons adopted at the United Nations Headquarters on July 7, 2017, was ratified by 50 countries as of October 24, 2020. The Treaty was set to enter into force 90 days after reaching that level of ratification, and so on January 22, 2021, it becomes international law binding on all signatories.
Today is that special day that A-bomb survivors and countless people who hope for a peaceful world without nuclear weapons have longed for. It is the beginning of the final stage, and we share this joy.
This treaty is the most effective measure for the abolition of nuclear weapons. However, as the treaty states, more is needed than simply the prohibition of development, testing, production, acquisition, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons. International cooperation is needed to provide for such needs as assistance to victims of the use or testing of nuclear weapons, environmental restoration, etc. Therefore, the participation of all nations is required. Within one year after the entry into force, the parties to the Treaty will meet to decide such matters as deadlines for the disposal of nuclear weapons and a system of verification.
However, there is one last major barrier that must be overcome before all countries join the treaty. That is the persistence of the deterrence theory held by nuclear-armed states and countries such as Japan under the so-called nuclear umbrella. These countries have not acknowledged, signed or ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The Japanese government argues that “it is necessary to maintain the deterrence of the United States with nuclear weapons under the Japan-US alliance.” But as the only country to ever be attacked with atomic weapons, Japan should take the lead in signing and ratifying and play a role in promoting dialogue toward nuclear disarmament between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states.
As Catholic bishops and Japanese citizens of the A-bombed cities, we share Pope Francis’ confidence that a world free of nuclear weapons is possible and necessary “to protect all life.” Everyone, including those in nations with or without nuclear weapons, must unite to participate in the realization of a world free of such weapons. Many countries have ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and we renew our commitment to pray that countries that possess nuclear weapons will also ratify it, bringing about the full implementation of the treaty.