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Kishida, pope discuss need for 'world free of nuclear weapons'

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So, what happened Wednesday when Japanese PM Fumio Kishida met with Pope Francis?

A little complicated, so let’s get to it.

This is the 80th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Holy See. In years past, Pope Francis has made is clear his distaste for nuclear weapons. Japan has proven useful in this pope’s desire to have a modern day Helsinki Conference, which would be orchestrated in large part by his efforts. Japan, as the only country to receive detonation, is useful for illustration of the deadliness, devastation and ensuing human misery of such devices. The Pope has previously expressed concerns over proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the overall lack of enthusiasm by the globe over reduction and elimination.

This time would prove no different.

According to a statement from the Japanese Embassy, Kishida had “a fruitful exchange of views” with the pope, “addressing issues such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, East Asia, North Korea.” Kishida told the pope about North Korea’s latest launch of a ballistic missile, and “expressed concern about North Korea’s activities in the field of missile and nuclear weapons tests.” Pope Francis used the occasion to condemn their use and possession during the 25-minute meeting as “inconceivable.”

Then, for the next hour, Kishida met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin . The cardinal, in particular, really wants a new Helsinki Conference, and envisions the conference setting new standards to eliminate a new cold war, reduce blocs of influence between countries, strengthen participation in international bodies, and end the Ukraine war. The world, he said before, has “the obligation not to continue the war but to implement every possible political and diplomatic initiative to achieve a ceasefire and a just peace."

And a new Helsinki Conference is just the ticket to make all of that happen.

Parolin, you will recall, was instrumental in the provisional agreement between the Holy See and China in September 2018 over the appointment of bishops (six ordinations of bishops in China since the agreement was first reached). The agreement had a two-year term and was renewed for another two years in October 2020, with no adjustments or amendments. Next expiration is this coming October.

During the PM’s meeting with the cardinal, Kishida expressed deep concern over unilateral attempts to subvert the status quo by force in the East China Sea and South China Sea, as well as the human rights situation in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang region, expressing apprehension over the nuclear and missile issue of North Korea.

The cardinal did not follow along those lines. He remained non-committal over the human rights situation in Hong Kong and China’s Uyghur Muslim problem. In fact, the issues Kishida presented were largely ignored in the secretary’s post-action communiqué; but the war in Ukraine did make the final cut. (https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2022/05/04/220504c.html).

The pope did get from Kishida what they needed most . . . reassurance. Former PM Shinzo Abe had been quoted as floating the idea of Japan move towards “nuclear sharing” after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. According to the Japanese embassy statement, Kishida “expressed his intention to collaborate with the Holy See to create a ‘world without nuclear weapons.’”

For context, the day before meeting with Kishida, Pope Francis was interviewed by an Italian newspaper about the Ukraine war. Obviously frustrated that his efforts towards cease-file and peace were going nowhere, and thwarted in efforts to meet with Putin or to get anywhere with Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow Kirill, he told the reporter that “NATO barking at Russia’s doors” may have raised alarms in the Kremlin about the alliance’s intentions in Ukraine. “I can’t say if (Russia’s) anger was provoked,” he continued, “but facilitated, maybe yes.” Then, as for Kirill, the pope said that Kirill - who has given the Ukraine war his public backing - "cannot become [President Vladimir] Putin's altar boy."

In diplospeak? Ouch! Times two!

Things ordinarily said in private to diplomats, not to newspapers.

The reaction was quick.

The Russian Orthodox Church said it was regrettable that a month and a half after Francis and Kirill spoke directly, that the pope had adopted such a tone. "Pope Francis chose an incorrect tone to convey the content of this conversation." "Such statements are unlikely to contribute to the establishment of a constructive dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches, which is especially necessary at the present time."

Further along then we were before? Maybe not. But probably not worse off then we were, before the Japanese / Holy See meet and greets.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

"We must continue showing ourselves united and resolute to defend the international order based on rules, including in the China Sea and Straits," Draghi said.

In this current crisis, the constant harking of the G7 leaders to defending the status quo and rules based order shows how bankrupt they are of inspiration and moral leadership.

The predatory maneuvers of oligarchs East and West is what has led the world to this point.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

To start an invasion of a neighbor, just for the hell of it?

No.

There was provocation, as the Pope has alluded to.

However, that’s not a politically correct statement…

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Kishida and Italian Premier Mario Draghi discussed the missile launch during talks later Wednesday.

Draghi said Italy, as well as the broader European Union, agreed on the importance of stability in the Indo-Pacific region and shared the concern about North Korea's weapon tests.

Well, yes. He did.

Reuters is reporting that Italian PM Mario Draghi then thanked Japan on Wednesday for swiftly agreeing to redirect liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes destined for third countries to Europe.

Didn't see that on the agenda ahead of time.

Later, while he had a wide audience, Draghi took the podium.

He called for 'pragmatic federalism' and a 'new momentum' for EU expansion:'

[I]t would be impossible to ensure the security of the Old Continent if it closed the door to Western Balkans countries, along with Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia. "The full integration of countries with European aspirations is not a threat to the maintenance of the European project; it is part of its realization," he declared. "We want Ukraine as a member of the EU," he also insisted, after having asked for "the immediate opening of negotiations with Albania and Northern Macedonia," for "a new momentum to be given to negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro" and for "the greatest attention to be paid to the legitimate aspirations of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo."

LeMonde.

He then urged the EU to drop principle of unanimity in foreign policy decisions.

in order to better cope with economic, energy, defence, and foreign policy issues . . . . "If this will require starting a process to change EU treaties, we should embrace it . . . "We must shift away from the principle of unanimity, which leads to a logic of crossed vetoes," Draghi added, describing the conflict in Ukraine as a "security, humanitarian, energy, and economic" catastrophe all in one. As per the report, a special majority, which requires the support of 15 of the EU's 27 member states, would make it difficult for a single country to stymie decisions."

RepublicWorld.

Busy guy!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Skeptical

I think its important to clarify and remember that Japan is not the only nation that received nuclear detonation.

The USA and France may not have been at war with the Pacific Islands nations but they sure as hell bombed them with their so called tests.

-11 ( +6 / -17 )

But, what about nuclear power? It’s just as dangerous and the waste is just as damaging to the environment.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

And yet if the US greenlights, Japan will put together a nuclear weapon in a month.

-12 ( +3 / -15 )

Japan doesn't want a nuclear weapons free world !

That's preposterous lies !

Japan will dump radioactive waste into the ocean and Japan seeks to have its own nuclear weapons and preemptive strike abilities thats on the agenda to be officially decided by the end of this year.

Besides - the USA military has had nuclear weapons in Japanese waters and on japanese soil since ww2 .

Lets not forget the japanese government has double standards issues.

Remember Japan's signed agreement promises not to use chemical and biological or poisoned weaponry and then did so.

How could we possibly forget.

-14 ( +5 / -19 )

Japan has no right to pretend they want a nuclear-free world when they refuse to sign a ban on nuclear weapons and are now even debating whether to get their own. Period.

-16 ( +9 / -25 )

@smithinajapan

when they refuse to sign a ban on nuclear weapons

Japanese argument is that they can't sign the ban treaty because of US forces in Japan, which has nuclear warheads stockpiled and have nuclear armed aircraft carriers and submarines sailing in and out of Japan.

-12 ( +4 / -16 )

A nuclear free world is a pipe dream. Even if all nations agreed in public to eliminate their nuclear arsenals and there was an inspection regime, it is still too easy for a cheater to hide a few somewhere. When everyone is disarmed the cheater can then hold the entire world hostage with their handful of left over hidden nuclear weapons. That is why no sane nation that now possesses nuclear weapons will ever fully disarm. I think it is possible to reduce nuclear arsenals greatly but I do not think it is ever possible to completely eliminate them entirely. All it takes is one cheater. Consider that Sweden was able to develop a nuclear weapon and conduct ten or so underground tests without ever being detected. Nobody knew until the Swedish PM went on national TV to say Sweden was ending its nuclear weapons program. Think about that a while and you realize that cheating is not just possible but probably inevitable. If every nuclear power has, say, 100 weapons that can be verified. If someone stashed 10 or 20 away somewhere secretly that doesn't leave anyone else vulnerable to blackmail. But if most nations disarm completely and honestly a nation with half a dozen or so weapons squirreled away somewhere has real power. No sane nuclear power is going to fully disarm for that very reason. It would be potential suicide.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

US forces in Japan, which has nuclear warheads stockpiled and have nuclear armed aircraft carriers and submarines sailing in and out of Japan.

Nope. US Navy ships and attack subs have not deployed with nuclear weapon since the 1990s. Only the ballistic missile subs ever go to sea with nuclear weapons and they do not make port calls in Japan or other foreign ports. Most of the nuclear weapons have been consolidated into a few sites in the mainland US and many of the former nuclear weapons sites in the mainland have been closed as well. The US Navy recently nixed a new nuclear cruise missile. Nuclear weapons are very expensive to own. They require a lot of protection, even the ships have to have special US Marine guard forces for them, and a lot of maintenance, all in a highly classified environment. With modern precision guided munitions and the latest energetic materials nuclear weapons are unnecessary for tactical warfighting. It was no longer worth all the extra expense and effort to go to sea with nukes when the latest weapons can do the same job without all the extra baggage so they were removed from ships and attack subs in the 1990s.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Now and too late it comes back again into consciousness? I want to ask the whole world what have you done on this topic during the many last decades and how could you allow more and more countries to work on or already have nukes in their possession? Such repeated talking and appeals are of no use, what is needed is acting and abolition of all mass destruction weapons, btw not only nuclear ones, in a general action of all rivaling political or ideological blocks altogether. No one needs that stuff, neither in case of only a theoretical threat nor in the case of usage and then being suicidal also for the aggressor. Throw all ABC weapons into the garbage and use the remaining rest of your little brains instead, while you still can.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Desert Tortoise

I find that extremely difficult to believe the USA military doesn't have a nuclear arse anal in Japan.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

I find that extremely difficult to believe the USA military doesn't have a nuclear arse anal in Japan.

It is true. The US withdrew most of its nuclear weapons back to CONUS except the few sites in NATO nations where there are still some B-61 bombs at specially equipped airfields. There are a handful of NATO nations who's air forces have aircraft capable of deploying nuclear weapons and air and ground crews trained to handle them. Aside from those the US doesn't have nuclear weapons in foreign nations.

Nuclear ASROCS and nuclear Tomahawks were all long ago retired. The ammo ships are now all part of the Military Sealift Command manned by civilian mariners. No more Navy ammo ships like I used to deploy on. A lot of the nuclear weapons storage areas I knew about in the US are closed too. It is less costly to guard fewer places so the weapons were consolidated into a few big depots and because precision guided munitions are so good there are fewer targets that need nuclear weapons to defeat. Today there are conventional bombs that can blow enemy ICBM silos and stealth aircraft capable of attacking those silos and surviving. When you can do that with conventional arms you don't have as many reasons to resort to nuclear warfare. The tactical utility of nuclear arms shrinks every year.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The pope might be the moral head of the west but Russians and Ukrainians are Orthadox not Latin followers and the Roman pope is a of no real relevance to them. Meeting him is good manner but not going to change anything.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Meanwhile Abe san seems to be pushing for nuclear weapons and as far as I know the Vatican has none. That’s confusing! So what are they talking about?

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

Desert Tortoise

I remain sceptical of whether the USA still has nuclear capabilities in foreign nations.

But thanks for the interesting explanation.

What about the so called nuclear bullets used in Iraq ?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Cricky

The Vatican has the ultimate weapon - the wrath of god !

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

The old saying goes; japan is a screwdriver's turn away from having their own nuclear weapons.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

What about the so called nuclear bullets used in Iraq ?

You are referring to armor piercing rounds milled out of depleted uranium. Depleted uranium or "DU" was used in the 30mm anti tank rounds fired by A-10 Warthogs and in the Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discard Sabot (APFSDS) anti-tank rounds fired by US tanks. The material is milled I believe from used reactor fuel rods. It is extremely hard, very dense and heavy. Combined with high muzzle velocities it carries a lot of kinetic energy and can cut right though most tank armor without using explosives. Kinetic energy and the inhereeent hardness are enough to defeat most tank armor and especially the Russian tanks. As it penetrates the armor it heats it and sprays molten metal around the inside of the tank as the round passes through. That is plenty to set everything inside on fire, after which on Russian tanks the ammo in the auto loader carousel explodes, blowing the turret off and the engine is often blown out the rear.

The problem was after the war there were a lot of the 30 mm DU rounds were laying around the desert afterwards (not all hit a target and many times they bounce off after hitting) and were a radiological hazard that forced a clean up effort. Now these rounds are machined from tungsten. They are not as good, tungsten is not as hard as DU, but for most uses good enough. Modern MANPADS have made diving on a tank using that gatling gun a suicide missile. Now even the Hog has to stay high and use laser guided bombs or Maverick Missiles. The US Army still uses DU in their APFSDS rounds, the only thing that can reliably defeat the latest Russian reactive armor like Kontakt or Kacktus. They also don't spray them at 4500 rounds per minute from a gatling gun like the A-10 does. The DU APFSDS rounds are expensive and only used on enemy tanks, almost always hitting their target. Tanks carry other kinds of rounds for softer targets and save the DU rounds for the only target they need them for, enemy tanks.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I should have said diving on a tank is a suicide mission, not missile. Apologies for the booboo.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I always appreciate your insight and expertise, Desert Tortoise! Thank you!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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