Peace Boat action for nuclear abolition at the NPT 10th Review Conference

Oct 11, 2022

The tenth review conference of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) took place between August 1-26 2022 at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.  The conference was held in the midst of the nuclear threat intensified by the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, and many state representatives voiced their demand for the nuclear weapon states to cease nuclear menacing and take sincere steps towards nuclear disarmament. Although the conference ended without adopting a final consensus statement, a Peace Boat delegation appealed for action for nuclear abolition in various ways during the conference.

Setsuko Thurlow press conference expressing disappointment in Japanese Prime Minister Kishida

Peace Boat supported the press conference by Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor Setsuko Thurlow at the United Nations on August 1, the first day of the four-week long conference. Earlier in the day, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio made a speech, and Setsuko expressed her disappointment in the fact that “He did not say a single word (about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons)”.  She emphasized that while Kishida’s speech was “pretty ideals and beautiful words,” it did not include the most important thing, which is the TPNW and the international movement around it.

Kawasaki Akira, Peace Boat’s executive committee member who attended the press conference, also mentioned the absence of the TPNW in Kishida’s speech. It was also attended by representatives of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo), who held an a-bomb exhibition at the UN Headquarters lobby and also made a statement as one of the NGO/Hibakusha representatives at the conference.

Peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

Achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula to create a more peaceful and stable Northeast Asia is one of the most important priorities for Peace Boat. Together with Korean NGOs, Peace Boat joined activities to appeal about this issue during the NPT RevCon.

On August 4, Korean NGOs Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea (SPARK) and People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) organized a side event in which Kawasaki Akira joined as a panelist to speak about the necessity of a Northeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free zone. SPARK and PSPD strongly condemned the current Biden administration’s hostile attitude towards the DPRK, and the failure, demanding the US government to shift their political strategy towards diplomacy and dialogue with DPRK in order to realize a peaceful, nuclear-free Northeast Asia.

On August 5, a joint NGO statement by Peace Boat and PSPD was presented at the conference, read by Emilie McGlone, Director of Peace Boat US. In the statement the two NGOs expressed their deep concern about increasing military tensions around the Korean peninsula and proposed three concrete steps towards the denuclearization of the peninsula and the path to peace. 

Appealing for NPT state parties to join the TPNW

As a partner of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN),  Peace Boat monitored intergovernmental discussions, participated in a number of side events, and demanded each state party to take sincere steps towards nuclear abolition. Highlights of the actions were shared via social media and the website of the Japan NGO Network for Nuclear Weapons Abolition.

The prime focus was to demand that states properly recognize the inhumanity of nuclear weapons, as well as acknowledge the significance of the TPNW, following the holding of its first Meeting of States Parties in June this year. Many nuclear weapon states still reject the TPNW. However, the ultimate aim of the NPT is nuclear abolition, and it does not suggest that nuclear weapon states should keep their nuclear weapons forever. During the NPT RevCon, a number of non nuclear weapon states spoke powerfully about the fact that the more states join the TPNW, the more power is gained towards nuclear abolition.

On-site conference flash reporting for the Japanese audience

Peace Boat held a series of flash reports in order to deliver the latest news and atmosphere of the conference to people in Japan. Six live streaming sessions were delivered within the four weeks of the conference period, each for 30 minutes. These live sessions involved on-site reporters in New York, as well as commentators in Japan. This built upon the success of online events held live during the TPNW Meeting of States Parties in June 2022.

On August 29, in response to the NPT RevCon ending without a joint statement, the Japan NGO Network for Nuclear Weapons Abolition released a statement titled “Even as the NPT is stalled, we move forward” and held a press conference. Widely covered by the Japanese media, the statement condemns Russia for breaking up the conference, criticizes the insincerity and arrogance of the five nuclear-weapon States, expresses hope in the TPNW, and highlights challenges for Japan and the need to break free from nuclear dependence.

Although the NPT states failed to agree on a final statement, the NPT tenth review conference provided space for multilateral discussions and networking among civil society and diplomatic delegations around this important work. One visible change during the Review Conference was that with more states in support of the TPNW, there were also more strong voices mentioning the treaty, and recognizing how it supports and complements the NPT. As the G7 summit in Hiroshima and the second Meeting of State Parties of the TPNW will both take place in 2023, Peace Boat is committed to continuing our work for nuclear abolition.