The United States and Japan recently announced a joint working group on a wide range of issues related to non-proliferation and arms control. In a joint statement released in Tokyo March 8, John Holum, senior adviser for arms control and international security, and Norio Hattori, director-general for arms control and scientific affairs at the Japanese Foreign Ministry, announced the creation of the U.S.-Japan Commission on Arms Control, Disarmament, Nonproliferation and Verification.
The commission will meet every six months to discuss progress toward and offer direction on a wide range of non-proliferation goals, including strengthening the non-proliferation regime, encouraging early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), establishing a verification protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention, and generating movement toward negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty in the UN Conference on Disarmament. Immediate priorities include the CTBT and ensuring the success of the upcoming nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference.
The commission intends to capitalize on shared interests between the United States and Japan to move beyond consultation on non-proliferation issues to actual cooperation. While there will not be permanent commissioners, each government will commit officials with appropriate expertise to each cooperative enterprise.
The first act of the commission, which first met in early March, was to establish the Technology Cooperation Working Group, which will focus on the use of technology for arms control verification. The working group's first project will be to improve the CTBT's International Monitoring System. Detailed work plans are set to be completed mid-April, when funding and implementation schedules will be discussed. The next meeting of the full commission has not yet been scheduled.