Proposals for the G7 Hiroshima Summit: Realizing a Sustainable Future Without Nuclear Weapons
Hiroshima Prefecture / Nagasaki Prefecture
(Submitted to Japanese Government on December 27th 2022
Given the historical significance of the upcoming G7 Summit in Hiroshima in May 2023, this document presents ideas on how the international community can address the pressing challenges of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as overcome political and military conflicts and economic and social divisions that exist around the world, particularly the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The ultimate goal is to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons, so that we can create a sustainable world for the future.
These proposals are compiled under the responsibility of the co-chairs, based on discussions in the Working Group, Advisory Group and Youth Community for Theory Building on Nuclear Disarmament and Sustainable Future, which are organized by Hiroshima Prefecture and the Hiroshima Organization for Global Peace (abbreviation: HOPe)* and consist of experts from diverse fields, such as peace and security, environment, health, and the SDGs
Regarding the inter-linkage between the issues of nuclear weapons and sustainability, which are the themes of these proposals, Nagasaki Prefecture has been working with Hiroshima Prefecture and the Hiroshima Organization for Global Peace (HOPe) as a member of the Global Alliance “Sustainable Peace and Prosperity for All” (abbreviation: GASPPA)**. In preparation for the G7 Hiroshima Summit, we jointly submit this proposal
* Hiroshima Organization for Global Peace (HOPe), founded in April 2021, is a joint organization of the Hiroshima Prefectural Government and organizations within Hiroshima Prefecture. Its founding mission is to achieve a peaceful world free of nuclear weapons
** Global Alliance “Sustainable Peace and Prosperity for All” (GASPPA) is a network organization of groups and individuals that work for raising the issue of nuclear weapons from the perspective of sustainability and urging the international community to take action, with the aim of having the elimination of nuclear weapons included as a goal in the next UN global agenda (post-SDGs) for 2030 onwards. GASPPA was established on April 4th 2022, and HOPe serves as Secretariat
Working Group for Nuclear Disarmament and a Sustainable Future
〈Chairpersones:titles as are of December, 2022〉
Professor, Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University
Program Director, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies
Professor, School of International and Public Policy, Hitotsubashi University
Director of International Health Division, Africa-Japan Forum
Executive Committee Member, Peace Boat / International Steering Group Member, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
Professor, Osaka Jogakuin University
Principal Director, Hiroshima Organization for Global Peace (HOPe)
Advisory Group for Nuclear Disarmament and a Sustainable Future
Director, UNITAR Division for Prosperity and UNITAR Hiroshima Office
Vice Director, Professor, the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Nagasaki University
Former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament
Director of SDGs Promotion Center at Kanazawa Institute of Technology, Professor
Youth Community for Nuclear Disarmament and a Sustainable Future
Coordinator, Environmental Partnership Office Chugoku
1. Basic concept
(1) Historical significance of the G7 Hiroshima Summit
Currently, with the conflict in Ukraine, Russian leadership publicly discussed the use of nuclear weapons as a means of direct intimidation and thereby legitimized the threat of actual first use. The danger of nuclear weapons being used in actual warfare for the first time since Hiroshima and Nagasaki is increasing.
In May 2023, the leaders of France, the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Japan, Italy, and Canada will gather in Hiroshima for the G7 Hiroshima Summit amidst these circumstances, to exchange views on the world economy, regional situations, and various global issues.
G7 member countries, which used to be hostile to each other, now have strong and trusting relationship.
Although the G7 member countries share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, history shows that they were once divided into the Allies and the Axis Powers during a fierce world war and were bitter rivals. Notably, the U.S. and Japan have a unique relationship as one country used nuclear weapons against the other, and the other was the country that was attacked with them.
At the G7 Hiroshima Summit, which is held in Hiroshima, where an atomic bomb was used in warfare for the first time in human history, we hope that the leaders of the G7 countries will reaffirm the spirit of the agreement with which they have overcome the divide in the past by aligning the future-oriented policies in each of their countries to the common spirit of the G7 agreement. We believe that solid alignment amongst the G7 will send the message that strong political will can overcome global divides.
Furthermore, we strongly urge the G7 leaders to send a clear and united message from Hiroshima to the world, calling for an immediate resolution to the conflict in Ukraine where nuclear weapons have been used to intimidate. The use of such inhumane tactics as threats only exacerbates global destabilization and the ongoing nuclear arms race.
Finally, we would like the G7 leaders to acknowledge the “Hiroshima Commitment” that there is an exit from world order predicated on the existence of nuclear weapons, and to revitalize determination that we must ultimately free the earth and humankind from the curse of nuclear weapons in the not-so-distant future.
(2) Significance of this synthesized perspective of nuclear disarmament theory and “sustainability”
The climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic require actions that transcend sectors and Page 5 of 7 borders. However, political and military conflicts around the world, such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as economic and social inequalities, are creating a “great divide” and hindering the ability to effectively address these issues. In this context, the presence of nuclear weapons exacerbates these crises and divisions between countries and regions.
With the conflict in Ukraine, we see that the absence of any mutual trust has led to the risk of use of nuclear weapons by a nuclear-weapon state being the highest since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Paradoxically, this clearly demonstrates the appropriateness of the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons.
The issue of nuclear weapons has been thoroughly discussed with the main focus on two perspectives: “inhumanity” and “military and security.” The previously-mentioned global state of affairs indicates that these two focuses are insufficient. It is obvious that the world needs to adopt a new perspective in order to overcome the “great divide” currently existing in the international community. This document presents the focus of “sustainability of the earth and humankind” as the necessary next step in these global discussions.
Agreeing to adopt the perspective of “sustainability” does not mean that the conventional approaches based on the perspectives of “inhumanity” and “military and security” are being denied. Rather, they are being strengthened through the complement of this new perspective. There are three main values that the framework of sustainability-focused discussions provide.
First, by adding the perspective of sustainability, it becomes possible to reframe the nuclear weapons issue within the context of the entire social system that makes up our world so as to highlight the structure of the issue in a more comprehensive and threedimensional way.
It is more realistic to view nuclear deterrence, in which countries deter each other through the existence of nuclear weapons, not only within the framework of military and security but also within the interdependent relationships among countries, including diplomatic negotiations, economic relations, and food and energy strategies, rather than focusing solely on the political and military aspects of nuclear weapons.
If this idea is further expanded and viewed from the standpoint of “ensuring human security in the new age” in preparation for crises, in other words, from the standpoint of protecting lives, there will also be the option to take a path to break out of the situation through solidarity rather than confrontation, such as discussions on measures to deal with climate change by changing people’s mindsets and behaviors and reinforcing infrastructure and on countermeasures against COVID-19 through the global Page 6 of 7 procurement and distribution of vaccines. In this way, having a viewpoint of sustainability enables us to broaden the scope of the concept of security and crisis management.
The year 2023 will mark the midpoint in implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) up to 2030. However, the reality is far from as it should be with the spread of military and security problems against the backdrop of the existence of nuclear weapons around the world, not to mention the Ukraine crisis, in which threatening with nuclear weapons has been openly used, has had an immeasurable negative impact on the achievement of the SDGs.
A world without nuclear weapons does not mean going back to a pre-nuclear era; it means creating a new global system that promotes peace and prosperity for all countries without relying on nuclear weapons, and addressing the underlying issues that led to the creation of nuclear weapons. By incorporating a sustainability perspective, we can reignite discussions on nuclear disarmament which often become stagnant due to preoccupation with nuclear strategy, under the assumption that nuclear weapons will continue to exist.
Second, by adopting the perspective of sustainability in the discussion of nuclear disarmament, we can set the future direction that we should take in the long term without being distracted only by the crises before us. For example, the Ukraine crisis has aggravated the global energy crisis. The world’s energy policy, which had been pursuing decarbonization, now reverted to the use of oil, natural gas, and coal. While it is of course important to take emergency measures to address the immediate crisis, we must not overlook the fact that unless we backcast from an ideal sustainable future world and seek consistency with the policies that should be taken from a longer-term perspective, the negative impact will be too great in the future.
The same is also true of responding to a growing security crisis with nuclear armament. Even if it brings security to a country in the short term, a chain of nuclear armaments will occur, resulting in destabilization of the world.
“Sustainability” suggests the future we should move toward without being disturbed by the turmoil arising from the immediate crisis. Bearing with a pithy literary metaphor, it acts as a bright fixed point, like the True North, that points the way forward for travelers lost in the dark night.
In order to create a long-term and sustainable future, it’s important to focus on providing freedom and stewardship for the youth to envision and work towards a “new normal” for the future. By listening to the aspirations, ideas and actions of the younger generation who seek the elimination of nuclear weapons, we can envision a world without the need for stability based on force and fear and instead look towards a bright and positive future.
Third, by approaching the issue of nuclear weapons from a sustainability perspective, it will be possible to involve a diverse group of stakeholders from various fields, gain new insights for solving the issue and create synergies between the knowledge obtained in other fields and the nuclear weapons issue.
One of the successes of the SDGs is that they have effectively brought attention to these issues among a diverse group of stakeholders, including companies and investors. However, discussions surrounding nuclear weapons have often been limited to experts within the disarmament community. By approaching the topic of nuclear weapons from a sustainability perspective, it can open the conversation to a wider range of individuals and make the issue more relatable.
Furthermore, knowledge from other fields can be effectively applied to the issue of nuclear weapons. For instance, the approach to addressing climate change, which acknowledges differences while promoting shared responsibilities through the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” can provide important insights for bridging the divide between nuclear-armed states and non-nuclear-armed states.
Based on the above concept, and in light of the historical significance of the G7 Hiroshima Summit, we make the following proposals as specific measures in order to overcome the “great divide” faced by the world and to realize a “sustainable future without nuclear weapons.”
2. Six Proposals for G7 Hiroshima Summit
Proposal 1. Reaffirming the universal norm to “Never let a nuclear war happen”
The Japanese government is proposing that the G7 countries come together and send a unified message emphasizing the importance of upholding the principle that nuclear war should never occur. This principle, which states that a nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought, should be upheld as a universal norm not just by the five countries that possess nuclear weapons. This proposal is based on the joint statement issued by the five nuclear-weapon states in January 2022.
Proposal 2. Eliminate nuclear weapons by 2045
In 2021, the UN Secretary-General introduced the Common Agenda, which includes plans to hold the “Summit of the Future” focused on creating a New Agenda for Peace, which includes setting a timeline for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The Japanese government, in partnership with the other G7 countries, should work to reach an agreement at the Summit of the Future to eliminate nuclear weapons by 2045 at the latest. This date coincides with the 100th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The goal is to establish a new social foundation for a sustainable future that does not rely on nuclear weapons.
Proposal 3. Establishing a Friends meeting on nuclear disarmament and sustainability
A group, similar to the “Friends of the CTBT” and the “Group of Friends of Human Security” should be established to discuss nuclear disarmament and sustainability. This “Friends Group” should serve as a bridge between nuclear-armed states and nonnuclear-armed states, and work to promote efforts to ensure that the elimination of nuclear weapons is included in the post-SDGs global goals to be developed by UN member states. This friends meeting would serve as a platform for these countries to discuss and work towards a common goal of nuclear disarmament and sustainability.
Proposal 4. Establishing an inter-governmental scientific advisory body
The action plan from the first Meeting of States Parties of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, known as the Vienna Programme of Action, highlights the negative effects that the use and production of nuclear weapons has on the environment, including climate change, food production, and ecosystems. In order to achieve the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons, it is necessary to create a plan that transforms the entire social system. As the only country that has experienced atomic bombing, Japan should take the lead in setting up a cross-disciplinary scientific advisory body that allows for evidence-based discussions on the link between nuclear weapons and sustainability.
Proposal 5. Promoting an integrated and comprehensive approach for deterrence and prevention
In light of the ongoing Ukraine crisis, which has brought the issue of deterrence to the forefront, it is important to acknowledge and further explore the importance of resolving the situation through a comprehensive and integrated approach. This approach should include not just nuclear deterrence, which aims to prevent an attack from an opposing party through the existence of nuclear weapons, but also political non-military efforts such as diplomatic negotiations, economic relations, and strategies related to food and energy. By looking at the situation holistically, instead of considering nuclear deterrence, it is much more likely to avoid the escalation of global crises.
Proposal 6. Holding a Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Disarmament and UN high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament regarding nuclear weapons and sustainability
The G7 should take the lead in requesting and organizing a Special Session of the UN General Assembly dedicated to disarmament and a “high-level” meeting on nuclear disarmament, with participation from heads of state and government. The purpose of this session will be to raise awareness of the ongoing nuclear crisis among the international community and to develop a plan to eliminate nuclear weapons while also ensuring a sustainable future for the planet and humanity. The meeting should include participation from all nuclear-armed nations, including those that are not signatories of the NPT, in order to have comprehensive discussions on disarmament.
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