[Workshop] Nagasaki 75th Anniversary Pandemic-Nuclear-Nexus Scenarios Project
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[Workshop] Nagasaki 75th Anniversary Pandemic-Nuclear-Nexus Scenarios Project

The APLN in collaboration with the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Nagasaki University (RECNA) and the Nautilus Institute conducted the Nagasaki 75th Anniversary Pandemic-Nuclear Nexus Scenarios project. The initiative identified opportunities for governments, civil society, and market actors to reduce nuclear risk and resume nuclear disarmament in Northeast Asia with special attention to new strategies emerging from the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Four workshops with forty cross-disciplinary group from diverse backgrounds, ages and nationalities from across the Asia-Pacific and North America were convened to develop four possible visions of the future-between now and 2030-through scenario planning. Scenario planning is a widely used methodology for imagining future conditions that are highly uncertain, and generating robust strategies for shaping the future. It is used to explore systematically the unknown forces of the future, design a finite set of future narratives, and then generate alternative strategies. The most successful scenario-planning exercises convene experts, thought leaders, and non-conventional thinkers to together create possibilities that could otherwise not be seen.

Participants included those from Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Mongolia, Philippines, ROK, Russia, and the United States. The workshops will take place “under the Chatham House Rule” except for the opening session on Saturday 31 October, from 9am (Japan Time) which was was livestreamed on YouTube and available to watch.

The final report, “Pandemic futures and nuclear weapons risks” from the workshops was published in December 2020 and the Japanese and Korean translations will be published in January 2021. To inform the discussions and scenario planning exercise, the following Special Reports were produced by expert authors:

Working Papers/Special Reports:

Paper 01: The Impact of a Regional Nuclear Conflict between India and Pakistan: Two Views

Paper 02: The US Election and Nuclear Order in the Post-Pandemic World

Paper 03: Nagasaki’s Voice: 75 years’ Experience

Paper 04: Pandemics

Paper 05: Extended Deterrence and Extended Nuclear Deterrence in a Pandemic World

Paper 06: An Alternative to Nuclear Deadlock and Stalled Diplomacy

Paper 07: Asia-Pacific Perspective on Biological Weapons and Nuclear Deterrence in the Pandemic Era

Paper 08: COVID-19 and Labor Demand, Migration, and Military Force Structure Implications in East Asia

Paper 09: The Role of Cities as First Responders to Pandemics: Focusing on the Case of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Response to COVID-19

Paper 10: Nuclear Hotlines: Origins, Evolution, Applications

Paper 11: Assessing the modernization of nuclear postures

Paper 12: Equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines: cooperation around research and production capacity is critical

Paper 13: U.S. Planning for Pandemics and Large-Scale Nuclear War


Workshop Goals

1) Develop an analytical understanding of the interrelated nature of the co-occurring existential threats of nuclear weapons and global pandemics;

2) Explore potential levers and pathways to influence the future under various conditions; and

3) Identify concrete strategies to reduce the risk of nuclear war and resume nuclear disarmament to be considered by state and non-state actors.

Opening Public Session

The opening public session was held online on 31 October 2020 and included a keynote speech by APLN Chair Gareth Evans and opening remarks by APLN Deputy Director Eun-ha Kwon. Professor Evans explained that objective of the workshop was not only to understand the connections between the pandemic and nuclear threats and the world’s responses to them, but also to reach consensus on strategies that will be most productive in overcoming the nuclear threat.

Expert presentations on the special report:

  • Leon V. Sigal, Director of Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council;
  • Professor Chung-in Moon, Vice Chair & Executive Director of APLN; 
  • Lynn Eden, Senior Research Scholar Emeritus at The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University;
  • Dr Sun Kim, Director of Health Policy Research Center; Kazuhiko Moji of Nagasaki University;
  • Dr. Masao Tomonaga, honorary Director of JRC Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Hospital.

After the presentations, the participants were convened into groups to undertake the scenario-planning activities.

Findings and recommendations from each groups were included in a final report.