Japan's Special $2.43 million USD Contribution to the CTBTO

By Samantha Pitz

Japan announced its largest, voluntary contribution of $2.43 million (USD) to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Feb. 23 to improve the organizaiton's verification capabilities to detect nuclear explosions around the world. CTBTO Executive Secretary Dr. Lassina Zerbo praised the act, telling Permanent Representative of Japan, Ambassador Mitsuru Kitano, “This generous contribution will further build-up the International Monitoring System’s capacity to improve our radionuclide monitoring technology, which can conclusively establish whether a nuclear test explosion has occurred.”

In a May 2 joint appeal by the Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Kairat Abdrakhmanov, and CTBTO Executive Secretary Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Kishida noted that the contribution provided by Japan increases the capabilities of the International Monitoring System (IMS) that was able to detect all five of the North Korean nuclear explosion tests, but in the last two tests, was unable to confirm radionuclide detection, and furthers Japan's desire to universalize the IMS in order to augment detection capabilities all over the world.

Since Japan remains one of the few countries with expertise in hydroacoustic station development in the CTBTO, some of the funds of the Japanese contribution will be dedicated to facilitating improvements in the organization’s hydroacoustic monitoring capacity. Other than investments in hydroacoustic monitoring, the $2.43 million contribution will go towards procuring, deploying a mobile noble gas detection system, conducting measurements of background level of radio-xenon, and contributing to software development through testing and integration.

The contribution comes at a time when North Korea has invested in and tested more missiles and puts Japan at a higher security alert. Although Ambassador Kitano ceremoniously provided the CTBTO with the large contribution in the name of general capabilities and opportunities, the Russian national news source, Sputnik International, indicated in a Feb. 24 report quoting Japan's Yomiuri Newspaper that the CTBTO will be using Japan's contribution to "increase accuracy of test verification" and "deploy additional mobile equipment in the north of Japan."