April 18, 2023
HIROSHIMA — Experts discussed ways to realize a world free of nuclear weapons at a symposium in Hiroshima held Saturday by The Yomiuri Shimbun ahead of a Group of Seven summit in the city in May.
During the symposium, titled “Toward a Nuclear-Free World — Paths to Ensure Security,” Brad Roberts, director of the Center for Global Security Research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States, delivered a keynote address, followed by panel discussions among experts. A survivor of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima also talked about her own experience.
China is currently building up its nuclear capability, and Russia has continued to threaten to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Given these circumstances, the experts exchanged views on how to make progress toward nuclear abolition, while maintaining deterrence.
In his keynote address, Roberts said: “By 2027, China will have sufficient delivery systems to count as a near-peer to the United States and Russia. What does that mean? That it will have almost the same nuclear military potential as the United States and Russia.”
Last year, the U.S. government projected that China’s nuclear warheads would increase in number to 1,500 by 2035. However, Roberts said some people think the nuclear problem posed by China is a problem for a decade from now. But he called it “a here-and-now problem.”
At a panel discussion, Yu Koizumi, a lecturer at the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, said, “Russian nuclear submarines navigating the Sea of Okhotsk are rapidly modernizing.”
Another panelist, Nobukatsu Kanehara, a former assistant chief cabinet secretary, expressed the view that the nuclear capabilities of the United States, China and Russia, which are becoming on par with one another, could provide an opportunity to discuss a framework for nuclear disarmament and arms control.
Shinichi Kitaoka, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, stressed the need for the international community to intensively discuss an agreement on no first use of nuclear weapons and no use of such arms against nuclear have-nots.
Meanwhile, Makoto Iokibe, a former president of the National Defense Academy of Japan, called for the Japanese government to make diplomatic efforts to prevent China and Russia from working together. “It should make good use of the fact that even China has taken the position that nuclear weapons should not be used [by Russia in Ukraine],” he said.
Masafumi Ishii, a former director general of the Foreign Ministry’s International Legal Affairs Bureau, emphasized “the importance of making efforts to increase wide support for not using nuclear weapons” including from developing nations.
Kazuko Hikawa, a professor at Osaka Jogakuin University, said, “The hope is to help initiatives that seek resolutions for nuclear abolition, with all experts involved.”
At the start of the symposium, Toshikazu Yamaguchi, president of The Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings, said: “How can we take practical steps toward the ideal of a world without nuclear weapons? It is of great significance to seek an answer [to the question] in the A-bombed city of Hiroshima.”
In a video message, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, “I will demonstrate to the world the G7’s firm determination to uphold the free and open international order based on the rule of law from here in Hiroshima with historical significance.”