KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — Japan must lead the world in abandoning nuclear weapons as it is the only country to have suffered directly from their use, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.
Speaking to Kyodo News during his two-day visit to Japan, Dr Mahathir cited the World War II bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as prime examples of why countries across the world must support the UN’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
The US is the first and only country to have deployed nuclear weapons offensively, bombing Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and Nagasaki three days later.
“I think Japan is one country that should work hard to prohibit the use of nuclear weapons, in fact, to get rid of all nuclear weapons because Japan is the only country in the world that suffered from bombing by nuclear device so Japan knows how horrible it is when nuclear weapons are used,” Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying.
Over 70 countries have signed the treaty but ratification has been slow. The treaty needs 50 member nations to formally adopt it in order to be effective but only 25 have done so as of this month.
More importantly, major nuclear arms makers such as the US and China have not signed on. Consequently, countries such as Japan that enjoy protection from the US by virtue of their alliance have similarly deferred from supporting the treaty.
Japan is vicariously dependent on the US’ military might as the Asian country amended its constitution after its WWII defeat to prohibit its armed forces from being deployed offensively.
Dr Mahathir lauded this as a good example for the rest of the world.
“Japan is the only country in the world which has outlawed war, aggressive war, in order to solve problems of conflict between nations. That is a good beginning. Other countries should follow,” he was quoted as saying.
However, the Malaysian PM also noted growing hostilities between Japan and South Korea, and expressed concern that Japan’s constitutional ban on military aggression might not last.
His Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, previously suggested that the constitutional restriction be revisited to clarify the role of his country’s Self-Defence Forces.