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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January, 1975

ON JAPAN'S RATIFICATION OF THE NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY (NPT)

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    An internal record evaluating the arguments in favor of Japan's ratification of the NPT.
    "On Japan's Ratification of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)," January, 1975, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, File No. 2014-5384. Contributed by Yoko Iwama and Yu Takeda and translated by Ju Hyung Kim. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/250406
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On Japan's Ratification of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

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This document has been created for internal reference only. The content can be used for any purpose, but please do not quote the source.

January 1975

Table of contents

1. Signature of the NPT and government statement.………………………………...…...3

2. Subsequent developments of the issues pointed out in the government statement.......3

3. Our national interest and the NPT………………………………………......………...4

4. Our opinions on the questions regarding the NPT….………………………………...6

5. The necessity for early ratification of the NPT………………………..…………...…7

6. Ratification procedure of the NPT.……………………………………………………9

1. Signature of the NPT and government statements

The government of Japan agreed with the spirit of the Treaty and signed the Treaty on February 3, 1970, from the standpoint that the proliferation of nuclear weapons increases the risk of nuclear war and that preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons is necessary for world peace and is therefore consistent with the policies of the government of Japan.

At that time, in light of the importance of the Treaty, our government emphasized in its statement that regarding the criticism upon the Treaty, the government would be very interested in (a) the implementation of nuclear disarmament, (b) ensuring the security of non-nuclear states, including Japan, and (c) ensuring substantial equality in the peaceful use of nuclear energy with other parties. In particular, with regard to (c), it was pointed out that the ratification procedure of the Treaty will be carried out with due consideration so that the contents of safeguards agreements concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under this Treaty will not be substantially disadvantageous to Japan compared to other parties (especially the Euratom countries).

2. Subsequent developments of the issues pointed out in the government statement

Compared to the time of the signature, the situation regarding the aforementioned points has shown the following progress.

(1) Implementation of nuclear disarmament

The United States and the Soviet Union began negotiations on Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) at the end of 1969, the year after the establishment of the NPT, and concluded the Agreement on Measures to Reduce the Risk of Outbreak of Nuclear War and the Hotline Modernization Agreement in 1971, the Treaty on the Limitation of Antiballistic Missile Systems (ABM), and the Interim Agreement on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms in May 1972. Furthermore, at the U.S.-Soviet Summit held in June 1973, the Agreement on the Nuclear War Prevention was concluded. At the U.S.-Soviet Summit held in July 1974, the ABM Treaty Protocol to strengthen the regulation of the 1972 ABM Treaty and the Treaty on the Limitation of Underground Nuclear Weapon Tests were concluded. With regard to strategic offensive weapons, an consensus was formed to conclude a new agreement as soon as possible before the expiration of the current interim agreement. Subsequently, at the U.S.-Soviet summit meeting held in November of the same year, an agreement was reached on guidelines for future SALT negotiations, such as the total number of delivery systems for strategic weapons, the total number of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) and Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM) equipped with Multiple Independently targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRV). Meanwhile, the Geneva Conference on Disarmament, in which Japan participates, established the Seabed Arms Control Treaty in 1971 and is currently actively discussing the issue of a total ban on nuclear tests.

(2) Security of non-nuclear weapons state (Japan)

Since the signature of the NPT, the international situation has been favoring the security of Japan and other non-nuclear weapons states as a whole, as tensions have eased among nuclear powers. In particular, the establishment of friendly relations with China through the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China has contributed to strengthening Japan’s overall security.

Needless to say, Japan’s security is continuously guaranteed by the Japan-U.S. security arrangements. Incidentally, with regard to the security of non-nuclear weapons states, there was a declaration by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union (June 17, 1968) that “in accordance with the United Nations Charter, assistance will be provided to the Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty who have suffered an invasion or threat by nuclear weapons,” and a Security Council resolution (June 19, 1968), which states that such an aggression or threat with nuclear weapons “will create a situation in which the member states of the Security Council must act in accordance with their obligations under the United Nations Charter.” In the government statement at the time of signature, Japan also stated that it would pay attention to the implementation of this resolution until the ratification of the Treaty. There has not been a situation that the resolution is required to be implemented so far.

(3) Ensuring substantial equality with other parties in the peaceful use of nuclear energy

(a) This point (3) has been particularly important for Japan, which is in a situation where it has to continue to increase its dependence on nuclear energy.

(b) In this regard, the Model Safeguards Agreement of the NPT, which fully reflects Japan’s position, was drawn up in 1971. And Euratom countries, which were non-nuclear weapons states that were not ratified the NPT and have since attracted attention (West Germany, Italy, Benelux. Denmark and Ireland, which joined the Euratom in January 1973 along with the expansion of the EC, already ratified the Treaty), signed a safeguards agreement with the IAEA in April 1973 in accordance with the framework of the above Model Agreement. Meanwhile, in November 1973, as a result of several preliminary negotiations on safeguards agreements with the IAEA, Japan reached an agreement in principle to apply the same method and workload of inspection as Euratom, on the premise that Japan’s system of accounting for and control (a system for preventing the diversion of nuclear material to military purposes by understanding the current state of the quantity of nuclear material in Japan and managing such nuclear material) should be organized.

(c) Regarding the equality with nuclear-weapons countries, the United States and the United Kingdom declared that they would be voluntarily inspected by the IAEA (Voluntary Submission). In November 1972, the United States proposed to the IAEA that it accepts IAEA inspections to its nuclear facilities for peaceful use, on the premise that major non-nuclear weapons states (Japan and West Germany) undergo equivalent inspections under the NPT. The United States is currently negotiating with the IAEA. In addition, the United Kingdom has already entered negotiations with the IAEA.

3. Our national interest and the NPT

(1) The necessity of examination from the viewpoint of national interest

In considering whether Japan should ratify the NPT, it is necessary not only to consider whether progress has been made on the points stated in the government statement at the time of the signature of the NPT but also to reconsider the significance of the ratification of the NPT from the viewpoint of Japan’s national interest. The following are thought to be particularly important in considering this point.

(a) Stabilization of international relations is particularly important to ensure the peace and prosperity of Japan. Japan is in a position to maintain the Japan-U.S. security arrangements and make an active contribution to the stability of international relations through the promotion of peaceful diplomacy.

 (b) Securing industrial energy sources is an urgent issue for Japan. In particular, nuclear power generation is becoming increasingly important as an energy source in place of oil. However, Japan, which relies on foreign countries for its supply of nuclear fuel and needs close cooperation with technologically advanced countries in the field of nuclear technology, needs to establish a system to promote international cooperation for the peaceful use of nuclear energy as smoothly as possible.

(2) Our national interest and the NPT

 (a) The NPT aims to create an international environment that reduces the risk of an outbreak of nuclear war by preventing an increase in the number of nuclear weapons states, enhances the stability of international relations, and makes it easier to promote disarmament and ensure peace. It is a treaty to suppress the military use of nuclear energy while promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

(b) In this regard, the NPT is an unequal Treaty that discriminates between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states. Some argue that such discrimination might be fixed. However, it should not be overlooked that the NPT recognizes the reality of the international community that some countries actually possess nuclear weapons, and that, as mentioned above, its aim is to create an international environment that will enhance the stability of international relations and make it easier to promote disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament, by preventing further increases in the number of nuclear weapons states. Furthermore, this Treaty aims to achieve the ultimate goal of eliminating the distinction between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states through the total abolition of nuclear arms.

(Conversely, there would be no objection on how dangerous it is to resolve the distinction between the two countries by allowing non-nuclear weapons states to become nuclear weapons states)

(c) The NPT is intended to ensure that non-nuclear weapons states can benefit fully from the peaceful use of nuclear energy, including the use of peaceful nuclear explosions, instead of imposing obligations on non-nuclear weapons states not to produce or possess nuclear explosive devices. At the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United States stated that bestowal for technical assistance that the United States contributes to the IAEA in connection with the obligations of the NPT parties under Article IV of the NPT will be used preferentially over the parties, and the Soviet Union has made the same statement. The United States also submitted a resolution to establish an organization within the IAEA to provide peaceful nuclear explosion services under Article V of the NPT. The resolution was adopted, and it exemplifies the recent moves by the United States and the Soviet Union’s tendency to emphasize the obligations that nuclear weapons states bear under the NPT. Meanwhile, with the advancement of utilization of nuclear power, the contents of international cooperation in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy that Japan seeks in the future must be related to advanced technologies that could lead to the military use of nuclear energy. Therefore, it is difficult to ensure smooth implementation of international cooperation that Japan needs without clarifying our basic stance on nuclear issues through the ratification of the NPT.

(d) Although the NPT is not perfect, as stated above, it is the most important and fundamental Treaty in this area that, under the current circumstances of the international community, can meet Japan’s national interests to the fullest extent.

From this perspective, Japan should participate in the NPT, promote international cooperation for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and solidify its position as a peaceful country in Asia to contribute to further stabilization of international relations.

4. Our opinions on the questions regarding the NPT

Regarding the NPT, the following questions have been raised in addition to the questions mentioned in the previous section on whether the NPT will fix the distinction between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states.

(a) Even if Japan cannot arm itself with nuclear weapons for the time being, it should not give up its freedom to arm itself with nuclear weapons.

(b) If Japan joins the NPT, its peaceful use of nuclear energy may be hindered. Moreover, the supply of nuclear fuel may not be hindered even if Japan does not join the NPT.

The following is the response to such questions.

(1) Regarding the “freedom of nuclear armament”

(a) It is virtually impossible for Japan to arm itself with nuclear weapons under the Three Non-Nuclear Principles in the near future. In addition, such policies cannot be taken in view of the international environment surrounding Japan, such as relations with neighboring countries in Asia. Therefore, there is little possibility that such unrealistic “freedom of nuclear armament” can be used for diplomatic leverage, for example.

(b) Even if it is impossible to assert that there is no possibility that Japan will be armed with nuclear weapons in the long term, it is a good idea to participate in the NPT, promote international cooperation in the area of peaceful use of nuclear energy, and improve the overall capacity for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and ultimately enhance Japan’s international voice, rather than to take risks not participating in the NPT on the grounds of these uncertainties, causing suspicions from other countries and being disadvantaged in the area of peaceful use of nuclear energy.

(c) In the event of an “extraordinary circumstances” in which Japan cannot ensure its security unless it is armed with nuclear weapons in the future, Japan may withdraw from the NPT to deal with the problem. (According to Article X of the NPT, if they find that extraordinary circumstances in relation to a matter covered by the NPT jeopardizes their supreme interests, they shall have the right to withdraw from the NPT after giving three months’ notice to all other parties and the Security Council of the United Nations.)

(2) Peaceful use of nuclear energy

(a) Japan’s industrial power sources will have to increase its dependence on nuclear power generation in the future, and Japan needs to take every possible measure to secure the supply of nuclear fuel for this purpose. At present, Japan depends on the United States for the majority of enriched uranium, and this trend is expected to continue for the time being. Since 1971, the U.S. government has been in a position to suspend the supply of enriched uranium to foreign countries if it is incompatible with the U.S.’ obligations (the United States, as a party to the NPT, is obligated not to provide the nuclear fuel, etc. to non-nuclear weapons states unless safeguards under Article III.2 of the NPT applied to them) to foreign countries under the NPT (which is clearly stated in the uranium enrichment contract with foreign customers - confirmed in a side letter with Japanese customers). Japan needs to eliminate the causes of instability in the supply of nuclear fuel by joining the NPT.

(b) Almost all of Japan’s nuclear materials are already under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) through bilateral nuclear agreements.

 

As was already secured by the 1971 Model Agreement, safeguards under the NPT have been promoting simplification, rationalization, and industrial secret protection compared to the existing safeguards. Furthermore, the objective of Japan’s preliminary negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency for the conclusion of safeguards agreements is to ensure that safeguards are taken in such a way that industrial secrets do not leak. Therefore, there is no risk of causing hindrance to the peaceful use of nuclear energy by joining NPT.

5. The necessity for early ratification of the NPT

  

(1) Recent developments surrounding the NPT and the need for early ratification

As described in the above 2., the situation surrounding the government statement at the time of the signature showed progress thereafter. Considering also from the viewpoint of Japan’s national interest as is described in the above 3., the ratification of the NPT is considered necessary. In addition, considering the recent international situation surrounding the NPT as is discussed in the following sections, Japan should realize the ratification of the NPT as soon as possible.

(a) Against the backdrop of the situation after India’s nuclear test, it is an urgent international task to take more proactive measures to prevent further proliferation of nuclear weapons. Under these international circumstances, Japan’s ratification of the NPT is of great significance in international politics.

(b) The US government is reportedly demanding Israel and Egypt to accept stricter safeguards than those under the NPT. The U.S. government also expressed the view that preferential treatment would be given to NPT parties over non-parties in technical cooperation in the area of peaceful use of nuclear energy. Moreover, there is growing international opinion that concrete measures should be taken to strengthen the NPT system. Therefore, the disadvantages of staying outside the framework of the NPT may increase in the future.

(c) Preparations for the NPT review meeting, which was incorporated into the NPT’s provisions based on Japan’s insistence, have progressed, and it has almost been decided that the meeting will be held in May 1975. The purpose of this meeting is to “consider the implementation of this Treaty in order to ensure that objectives of the preamble and the provisions of this Treaty are realized.” It is expected that lively discussions will be held on specific measures such as the promotion of nuclear disarmament and the promotion of peaceful use of nuclear energy. But since it is a meeting of the NPT signatories, it is assumed that we ratify it before the opening of the meeting in order for us to participate in this meeting and fully assert our position.

(d) The EC countries (West Germany, Italy, and Benelux), which are non-nuclear weapons states, do not ratified the NPT and drew attention together with Japan, have signed the NPT Safeguards Agreement in April 1974. Parliament’s approval procedures for ratification are completed (West Germany, the Netherlands) or soon to be completed (Luxembourg, Belgium), except for Italy, which is expected to be delayed due to domestic procedural problems.

(e) Under these circumstances, after four and a half years since the signing of the Treaty the prospects for substantial equality in the field of peaceful use, which Japan has been most emphasizing, have emerged. If Japan continues to hesitate to ratify the Treaty, it is regarded to be more likely that adverse effects, such as the deterioration of Japan’s image, destabilization of international relations due to the weakening of the NPT system, and disadvantages to Japan in terms of peaceful use of nuclear energy, will occur.

(2) The disadvantage of the delay of the ratification

Regard these points, there is a view that it would be more advantageous for Japan not to ratify the NPT for the time being, maintain its position of criticizing nuclear weapons states from outside the framework of the NPT, and to press them to promote disarmament by utilizing this position as leverage. However, (i) as described in 4.(1), it is almost impossible for Japan to postpone its ratification of the NPT and maintain its titular “freedom of nuclear armament” as a diplomatic bargaining chip. Moreover, increasing distrust for Japan because of its refusal to ratify the NPT could undermine Japan’s demand for nuclear disarmament. Rather, it is advisable for Japan to participate in the NPT, promote international cooperation in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy, and enhance its overall capacity for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. It will enhance Japan’s international voice in promoting disarmament. And (ii) As described in 5.(1), considering the increasing possibility of specific disadvantages arising from the delay in ratification of the NPT under the recent international trend, policy of postponing ratification should not be taken.

6. Ratification procedure of the NPT

  

(1) The policy of the government

In preparation for the ratification of the NPT, along with previous policy, the government is making necessary preparations to advance preliminary negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency for the conclusion of safeguards agreements in order to ensure substantial equality with other NPT parties in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy. With the completion of these preparations, the government intends to resume preliminary negotiations for the conclusion of safeguards agreements and seek Diet approval as soon as possible based on the results of the negotiations with the consent of relevant parties.

(2) Relationship between negotiations to conclude safeguards agreements and ratification of the NPT

(A) In its statement issued at the time of the signature of the NPT, Japan made clear that the contents of the safeguards agreements concluded by Japan should not be treated in a substantially disadvantageous manner in comparison to those concluded by other parties. The government of Japan also intends to undertake ratification procedures for the NPT with due consideration of this point. Therefore, prior to ratifying the NPT, the government is in a position to conduct negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in order to confirm that the contents of the safeguards agreements concluded by Japan are not substantially disadvantageous compared to those of other countries.

(b) On the other hand, according to Article III, Paragraph 4 of the NPT, a country depositing their instruments of ratification or accession  within 180 days from the date of entry into force (March 5, 1970) of the NPT shall commence negotiations on safeguards agreements not later than the date of deposit. And it is said that “the agreement shall enter into force not later than 18 months after the date of initiation of negotiations.” Therefore, the fact that negotiations on safeguards agreements under this Article are to be commenced will lead to the obligation to bring into force the agreement after a certain period of time.

(c) Taking into account the above, the government of Japan, with the approval of the IAEA, held preliminary negotiations after 1972, which were not subject to the provisions of Article III.4 of the NPT. In November 1973, a  consensus was formed in principle that IAEA would grant Japan the same treatment as Euratom if Japan established the technical conditions for domestic inspections same as Euratom. Therefore, Japan needs to proceed with negotiations with the IAEA to draw up the safeguards agreement that incorporate the contents of this consensus. Japan has made it clear that this is the continuation of preliminary negotiations and not the negotiations prescribed in Article III.4 of the NPT. The IAEA has given a clear understanding of this point.

(d) Therefore, the purpose of Japan’s future preliminary negotiations is to confirm whether the request in the government statement will be fulfilled in the safeguards agreement with the IAEA. Even if this is confirmed, the ratification of the NPT will not be decided immediately. The ratification of the NPT will only be possible when a comprehensive political decision is made based not only on the results of the preliminary negotiations but also on issues that need to be taken into account in order to ensure Japan’s national interests, including disarmament and the security of non-nuclear weapons states, which were the two points mentioned in the government statement at the time of the signature of  the NPT.

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