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Landmark year starts as treaty to ban nuke arms comes into force

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A landmark year has started for the international movement to end the era of collective stupidity when nations threaten others with nuclear weapons, as a treaty aimed at realizing a world free from this threat has become a binding legal instrument.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which prohibits nuclear weapon activities, including developing, testing, producing, possessing, using and threatening to use nuclear weapons, entered into force on Jan. 22.

That follows ratification of the treaty by more than 50 countries during the three and a half years since it was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2017.

This is a historic step for the movement to eliminate nuclear arms, achieved with the strong support of international public opinion as well as “hibakusha,” or survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It poses serious questions about the future course of Japan, which has yet to sign the treaty despite being the only country that has suffered the devastation of nuclear attacks.


The treaty raises fundamental questions about the justification for the very existence of nuclear arms. It downgrades the status of these weapons from “a necessary evil” to “an absolute evil” and redefines national security as the security of the people, not of the states.

The treaty is designed to prohibit involvement in any activities to capitalize on the destructive power of nuclear arms under an international contract based on the notion that such weapons are useless and harmful. It is intended as an instrument to promote internationally the tenet that there is absolutely no need for nuclear arms so that the world will eventually become ready to discard them altogether.

But nuclear powers and their allies that have refused to join in are not bound by the treaty, which means there will be no immediate removal of nuclear arms.

The treaty is nevertheless expected to help reduce the role of nuclear arms and deter nuclear powers from using their arsenals and pressure them into nuclear arms reductions. With these effects, the treaty could help end the “balance of........

© The Asahi Shimbun

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