Proposal: The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Process – drawing a roadmap to the total abolition of nuclear weapons


Katsuya Kodama






The two atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed and afflicted many people. The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union caused the nuclear arms race and produced nuclear weapons capable of exterminating humanity several times over. In spite of the slender hope of abolition of nuclear weapons at the end of the Cold War, conflicts still continue around the world, and nuclear weapons have spread to India, Pakistan and North Korea. The dream of eliminating nuclear weapons has grown more distant.


Recently, however, I can feel a big wave of reassuring developments for world peace. The Mine Ban Treaty was concluded by the efforts of NGOs and the so-called “middle-power countries”. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) was established and pursued as a worldwide campaign. The Ottawa landmine conference was held in 1996 in Ottawa, Canada and then, the clauses for the Mine Ban Treaty were drafted at the drafting meeting held in Oslo in September 1997. The treaty was signed in December of that year, and entered into force in 1999.


Then, the Cluster Bomb Ban Treaty was achieved through a similar process. Many buried unexploded cluster munitions inflict serious injuries on ordinary civilians, so people might go so far as to call them “devil weapons”. An international conference concerning the banning of cluster bombs was held in February 2007 and the Oslo Declaration was adopted by 46 countries. In addition to the NGOs, the International Red Cross and the middle-power countries also participated in the Oslo Process.


If the military superpowers, including the United States and Russia, seize the initiative of disarmament, it becomes almost impossible to open a path to peace and disarmament. In the Ottawa Process and the Oslo Process, middle-power countries and NGOs played a key role in accomplishing international treaties by outnumbering the military superpowers. The times have significantly changed from disarmament negotiations led by military superpowers to a disarmament process setting led by global citizens.


Various tendencies can be seen regarding nuclear disarmament, too. It is striking that people considered to be pragmatists, including former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State George Schultz, former Defense Secretary William J. Perry, and former Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sam Nunn began to advocate the necessity of the total abolition of nuclear weapons. In conclusion, nuclear weapons and humans cannot co-exist, either from the perspective of pragmatism or of idealism.


The most significant event that shows America’s change of attitude toward nuclear weapons is the beginning of the Obama administration. President Obama delivered a speech in Prague in 2009 in which he expressed the goal of total abolition of nuclear weapons as follows: “So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” Although the specific process until this statement becomes reality is unclear, it is crucially important that the U.S. president referred to the abolition of nuclear weapons.


The road to the total abolition of nuclear weapons is now being created remarkably. If Hiroshima and Nagasaki advocate the specific roadmap and cooperate with international NGOs, the total abolition of nuclear weapons, which has long been considered as “just a dream”, will surely be realized.


At the general assembly of the International Peace Research Association held in Leuven, Belgium in July 2008, I advocated the “Hiroshima-Nagasaki Process” which is a process toward total abolition of nuclear weapons and won the assent and support of many researchers of peace studies. Here is a brief introduction to the essential features of the “Hiroshima-Nagasaki Process” which aims at total abolition of nuclear weapons.


The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Process


Several nuclear weapons conventions aimed at the abolition of nuclear weapons are to be established through the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Process. This is a comprehensive scheme to ban nuclear weapons mainly led by nuclear-free countries and international NGOs, including A-bomb survivors’ groups.


A-1) Establishment of a convention banning nuclear weapon use and threats


Firstly, we start by aiming to establish an international treaty that can be easily accepted. The resolutions prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons have already been adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Resolutions against nuclear weapons were submitted and adopted by a majority for many consecutive years since 1994. Japan’s attitude, however, gives preference to the major nuclear power, the United States. Japan keenly acts for its own resolutions to be approved, but, in step with the intentions of the U.S., abstains from voting on resolutions which would prohibit the use of nuclear weapons and which include specific content.

The difference between previous activities and this process is that this process aims to establish not a resolution prohibiting just the use of nuclear weapons, but a treaty prohibiting the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons. This process declares prohibition of the use “and threat” of use of nuclear weapons as an international treaty regardless of “participation of all the countries, especially of the nuclear armed states”.


As with the case of the Mine Ban Treaty and Cluster Bomb Ban Treaty, the process toward establishment of a treaty prohibiting the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons will be realized under the guidance of international NGOs and middle-power countries. It is possible to promote the illegality of use and threat of use of nuclear weapons with a rise of world opinion. It becomes clear that any country using or threatening use of nuclear weapons would receive sharp criticism and reproach and lose its position as a member of international society. It seems unlikely that all nuclear armed states will promptly sign and ratify this treaty. However, ratification of this treaty and creation of international norms by many non-nuclear countries with the backing of international NGOs will lead to significant restriction of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. That will reduce the value of nuclear weapons and make the process easier to move to the next stage.


A-2) Establishing a convention banning the development of nuclear weapons


The next stage is to establish a treaty prohibiting the development of nuclear weapons.


As nuclear experiments play an important role in the development of nuclear weapons, effort used to be focused on prohibiting nuclear experiments and worked effectively to some extent. The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) prohibits any nuclear test explosion and any other nuclear explosion at any place including both outer and inner space, underwater and underground. The CTBT expands the ban to underground nuclear tests which were not prohibited in the Partial Test Ban Treaty. However, the nuclear armed states repeatedly conduct subcritical nuclear tests even after the adoption of the CTBT. Nuclear experiments are yet to be terminated. Development of nuclear weapons is still continued.


The treaty prohibiting the development of nuclear weapons bans qualitative improvement of nuclear warheads including subcritical nuclear tests. In other words, it bans the development of nuclear weapons more powerful than we have now. The goal of this treaty is to create a nuclear freeze.


The process toward establishment of a treaty prohibiting the development of nuclear weapons is, like the treaty prohibiting the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, mainly led by international NGOs and non-nuclear states striving for its realization.


A-3) Establishing a Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Convention


The final step is to establish an international convention prohibiting ownership of nuclear weapons. We can arrive at this final stage, which is now seemingly impossible, by achieving the so far-stated steps one by one.


  1. B) Establishing a global nuclear-weapons-free-zone treaty


The treaties and concept of nuclear-weapons-free-zones until now was aimed at certain zones to be denuclearized; they require the banning of nuclear attack and threat of nuclear attack by nuclear armed states as well as prohibiting the development, production, testing, stockpiling, use and transferring of nuclear weapons in the zone. 


Although some nuclear-weapons-free-zones have already been established, building such zones in areas that include nuclear armed states is difficult. In such circumstances, Mongolia by itself declared the “Nuclear-Weapon-Free Status of Mongolia”.


The global nuclear-weapons-free-zone treaty is a treaty that can be joined by any state around the world and the total territories of participating countries are regarded as a nuclear-weapons-free-zone. Consequently, there is no limit for the non-nuclear states in Europe, East Asia and South Asia, which are important states regarding the nuclear weapons issue, to participate globally in such treaty. It is possible for the important countries both in the peace movement and NGO activities, including Germany, Canada and Northern European countries, to work together against nuclear armed states. We can create a huge global nuclear-weapons-free-zone by organizing the countries that have already joined the existing nuclear-weapons-free-zone treaties.


We can build a trend toward abolition of nuclear weapons by combining the workflow of establishing a convention banning nuclear use and threat of use, a convention banning the development of nuclear weapons, and a Nuclear Weapons Convention. This comprehensive process is the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Process.



  1. 008

    China that once thrived on water, faces water prob…


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