Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Shinsuke Sugiyama’s “statement” has become a conversation piece among reporters.
It all started when the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), an international coalition of nongovernmental organizations advocating for a strong and effective nuclear weapon ban treaty, was selected for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Japan is not a member of the treaty, and in an informal conversation with reporters Sugiyama recently said, “For nations that do not possess nuclear weapons to get together is nothing more than self-satisfaction. It is meaningless unless they get nuclear-armed states involved. Those participating in the treaty are not paying any attention to the threat posed by North Korea and its nuclear weapons and missiles. It’s unfathomable to me.”
At that point, Sugiyama’s subordinates stopped him. Regarding the treaty, the Japanese government has said it will “bridge the gap between nuclear and non-nuclear states,” but Tokyo has not clarified its stance any further at present. Behind that is the fact that the U.S. is completely opposed to a ban and “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which spearheads Japan’s nuclear disarmament efforts, is trying to read the U.S.’s mind,” says a MOFA source.
It seems that Sugiyama’s statement was “MOFA’s true feelings.”