Nuclear arms reduction expert: Hibakusha will play prominent role

A nuclear disarmament expert welcomes the participation of Japanese atomic bomb survivors, or hibakusha, in the first meeting of the states that are party to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
She anticipates that hibakusha will play a prominent role in the conference.

NHK has interviewed Elena Sokova, the executive director of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, ahead of the meeting scheduled to start on Tuesday in Vienna.

Sokova studies nuclear weapons reduction and was engaged in organizing the meeting.

In the interview, she said the hibakusha's engagement in the campaign, including sharing their stories, attributes to the existence of the treaty.

She said the nuclear threat is the highest since the Cold War ended. She pointed to heightening fears of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia as the country continues its military offensives in Ukraine.

Sokova said sending a message calling for attention to nuclear weapons and the risk they pose now is important as it's a "pivotal and opportune time."

She said nuclear disarmament should be discussed with not only countries that support the UN treaty but also nuclear powers and non-nuclear nations that rely on the so-called "nuclear umbrella" for deterrence.

She suggested the need for a regular dialogue among all parties and for setting up "some very good platforms."

The treaty was adopted in 2017 and entered into force last year. It is the first international agreement to make the weapons illegal.

The world's nuclear-armed states have not signed the treaty, however.

The Japanese government has maintained its stance that it will not join the treaty, along with them.