Australian Embassy

Ambassador Hayhurst - Interview in Hiroshima

Ambassador Justin Hayhurst

Interview in Hiroshima 

Interview date: 6 August 2023

As you know the atomic bomb dropped by the United States killed hundreds of thousands of people indiscriminately in Hiroshima. Could you tell me about how you feel about participating in the Peace Memorial [inaudible]?

Well, I am very honoured to participate in this ceremony. It is a very important event, and it comes not long after the G7 summit that your prime minister chaired, which had a very strong initiative, again, regarding nuclear disarmament.
As our prime minister said when he was visiting Hiroshima for that summit, Australia is dedicated to working towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, so I think it’s a very important event.

Do you think that the Russian invasion of Ukraine heightens the need for the deterrence based on the nuclear weapons?

I think Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which, like Japan, Australia considers illegal, immoral and destabilising, underlines one thing: that the use of force, the use of coercion, and the use of nuclear blackmail are something we should not accept, and cannot accept in the world, and Australia like Japan really wants to stand against this sort of conduct.
We can’t have a repeat of events from many decades ago, and Russia’s actions are really taking the world backwards.
So, we condemn absolutely Russia’s nuclear blackmail and coercion.

Do you think that the motion of the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, TPNW, undermines the [regime] of the treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons?

So, for Australia we think the NPT, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is the cornerstone of the global disarmament system. And we have achieved a lot of progress under that treaty, and there is still a lot of potential to advance our goal of severely reducing nuclear arsenals.
Now, we support the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, and we are watching the treaty closely, the TPNW, and we will examine whether it will advance that goal. But ultimately the NPT has to be the main vehicle to pursue disarmament.
Australia is fundamentally committed to that goal of eliminating nuclear weapons, but how we get there will require, of course, the cooperation and agreement of the states that possess nuclear weapons.
Now we don’t have nuclear weapons, we never will acquire them. We are committed to never acquiring them. So, we want to be pragmatic and effective in reducing the risk from nuclear confrontation.
And that’s why the NPT is so important, and that’s why that’s our biggest priority.

Could you please tell me your stance on nuclear deterrence [inaudible]    
Do you think the nuclear weapons, umbrella of nuclear weapons are essential for your national security?

Well, I think for our national security, our alliance with the United States across all of its dimensions is fundamental for our national security. It appears to be the same for Japan, and the Republic of Korea, and many other US allies.
So, I think it’s, you don’t look at one element in isolation, you look at the whole alliance architecture.

What do you think the role of Hiroshima for peace?

What do I think about the role?
Well, look, I think Hiroshima, as we know, has a very unique and tragic historical legacy, and the fact that the city has decided to use that legacy to promote peace and nuclear disarmament is a great credit, I think, to the people of this city, and this region, and to the political leaders from this region. Including the Prime Minister of course.
So, I think turning that experience into action is very positive, and that’s one reason I’m here to support those efforts.

Is it your first time to visit Hiroshima?

No, I’ve been here before, this is my fourth visit. So, I have been in Japan 7 months, and I’ve been to Hiroshima more than any other city by a long way.
So, I really like it here. I came for the G7 as well, so, we were a guest country. But yeah, my fourth visit, glad to be back. Fourth visit, but not the last visit.

To participate in this ceremony, it will be the first time?

Sorry, yes. For this anniversary event, it’s my first occasion, and I am very humbled and honoured to be present at such a solemn and momentous occasion.  

Did you go to the peace park, peace memorial museum today?

I did.

How was that?

Ambassador: Well, it’s a very powerful museum. It’s a very striking museum. To see the visualisation of the impact of the attack is profoundly moving, I think. It’s a good museum. Today was a little crowded, but I have been before, and I will come again because it tells an important story.

Do you support the [inaudible] between Russia and Ukraine?           
Is there anything [UNLCEAR]?

I won’t comment on that.
Our position on Ukraine and Russia is that Russia’s invasion is illegal and should be reversed. But I don’t have a view on that, I don’t have a comment on that issue as Australia’s Ambassador to Japan.