70 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki faced atomic annihilation, efforts to abolish nuclear weapons seem to have reached deadlock. The end of the Cold War and US President Obama’s 2009 Global Zero speech in Prague had raised hopes that a nuclear-free world would be achievable. However, the failure of the 2015 review conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) revealed the lack of political will to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in international security. In response to this moment of crisis, the so-called Humanitarian Initiative aims at re-invigorating the current NPT regime by shifting the focus of nuclear weapons’ discourse from security issues to the humanitarian impact - arguing that it is “in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances.”
The panel will explore the current state of the international NPT regime and the potential of the Humanitarian Initiative (HI) by looking at Japan and Germany. Both countries have a long-standing record as outspoken opponents of nuclearization and have supported the NPT since its early days. And yet, both countries are among the few non-nuclear states that have been very ambiguous towards the HI and continue to rely on the US nuclear umbrella. Will the nuclear policies of Germany and Japan change under the influence of the Humanitarian Initiative? What does the reluctance to join the Humanitarian Pledge tell us about the promises and weaknesses of the humanitarian approach on the one hand, and about the foundations of German and Japanese nuclear policy on the other?
Oliver Meier (SWP): “Germany and the Future of the Nuclear Order”
Richard Samuels (Einstein Foundation/MIT): “Japan’s Nuclear Hedge: Beyond Allergy and Breakout”
Tatsujiro Suzuki (Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Nagasaki University): “A Proposal for Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (NEA-NWFZ): Confidence Building and Regional Security without Nuclear Umbrella”