Maintenance of nuclear deterrence is necessary
G7 foreign ministers’ meeting was held in Hiroshima and concluded after adopting the Hiroshima Declaration on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.
Especially noteworthy was U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park for the first time as a cabinet secretary of the United States which dropped atomic bombs during the World War II. There he clearly stated that he would urge U.S. President Obama to visit Hiroshima. If the presidential visit actually takes place, it will become a symbolic event for reconciliation between the United States and Japan.
Hiroshima Declaration appealing for nuclear arms reduction
The Hiroshima Declaration pointed out that “the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki experienced immense devastation and human suffering as a consequence of the atomic bombings,” and appealed for world-wide efforts to reduce nuclear weapons.
What should not be forgotten is the fact that nuclear weapons serve as a deterrence against wars because of their mass-destruction capability to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens. Without nuclear weapons, China which continues military expansion would have gained strategic superiority with its conventional forces against Japan, the United States and European countries because of its vast population.
In this sense, whenever reduction or elimination of nuclear weapons is discussed, it is necessary to carefully consider overall military balance including conventional weapons. Otherwise, peace will be undermined.
This is the reason why President Obama takes position that “incremental nuclear disarmament” is the only realistic option while he has been advocating the ideal of the “world without nuclear weapons” since his inauguration. Western countries face a dilemma of wanting to appeal for elimination of nuclear weapons on the one hand and having to maintain nuclear deterrence on the other in the severe security environment which includes North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, Chinese military’s rise and chaotic Middle East situation.
Japan faces the same dilemma. Japan has no choice but to rely on the U.S. nuclear deterrence for its security policy. It is necessary to recognize this reality.
The greatest achievement of G7 foreign ministers’ meeting is the Statement on Maritime Security which clearly stated, “We are concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas, … We express our strong opposition to any intimidating, coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo,” with China in mind without specifically naming the country. Stronger criticism of China compared to the statement issued during G7 foreign ministers’ meeting last year is highly evaluated.
The statement demanded self-restraint from China which is carrying out large-scale land reclamations and building of military outposts in the South China Sea. Furthermore, the statement called for full implementation of binding court decisions by the parties to the territorial disputes based on international laws.
China claims its jurisdiction within the Nine-dotted Line as its national boundary in the South China Sea. However, such claim is without foundation of international laws. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which is called the “constitution of the sea” stipulates that a littoral country’s territorial water is within 12 nautical miles and its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for the right to fishery and natural resources is within 200 nautical miles from its coast line.
Article 74 of the UNCLOS cautions relevant countries not to undermine or prevent an agreement on boundaries in areas where disputes over EEZ exist. China’s reclamation activities infringe the article and this fact should be strongly pointed out.
Significant show of solidarity
It is significant that G7 countries demonstrated their strong solidarity and resolve to deter China which repeats unlawful activities. G7 countries need to continue working with countries in the region and increase pressure on China in the future.