WASHINGTON — Members of Congress and the Japanese parliament issued a joint letter today to call on President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida to support a declaration of a no-first-use nuclear weapons policy for the United States. Their advocacy to the executives comes following a Nuclear Posture Review from the Biden administration that clarifies the Pentagon’s nuclear capacity.

The 35 American and 39 Japanese lawmakers, representing the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and the Progressive Caucus of Japan (PCJ), encouraged both governments to clarify that they do not support the United States being the first nation to introduce the use of nuclear weapons in conflict. It was led by Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), CPC Chair, and Mark Takano (CA-41), Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ed Markey (D-MA), and Japanese Diet House of Representatives member and PCJ chair Masaharu Nakagawa.

While a no-first-use policy is the de facto position of both countries — a longstanding CPC priority — it is essential to clarify and strengthen that position in the wake of Russia’s illegal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine and a moment of heightened nuclear tensions. The lawmakers write: “A U.S. declaration stating that it would never start a nuclear war, supported by Japan, would breathe new life into international efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate the danger of nuclear war. This is especially important at a time when tensions between the nuclear-weapons-possessing states, especially between the United States and China, are increasing.” 

Japan is part of a group of non-nuclear countries covered by the U.S. nuclear “umbrella,” which pledges the United States to retaliate if any of the included countries were attacked with nuclear weapons. Analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists found the Japanese government would accept a U.S. no-first-use declaration and is unlikely to develop its own nuclear weapons in response — and that the assurance to the umbrella countries would remain even with a no-first-use declaration. 

The letter concludes, “Though the U.S. has recently completed its Nuclear Posture Review, it is never too late to commit to a no-first-use policy. Making this sensible change to U.S. nuclear weapons policy enjoys overwhelming support, both in our respective legislatures as well as among the citizens we represent.”

The full list of American signatories includes: Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Mark Takano (CA-41), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (VA-08), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Judy Chu (CA-27), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), John Garamendi, Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr. (GA-04), Andy Levin (MI-09), Mike Levin (CA-49), Ted W. Lieu (CA-33), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Carolyn B.  Maloney (NY-12), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Maxine Waters (CA-43), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Peter Welch (VT-AL), and Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

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