Statement by Counsellor Nobutaka Sawada at the Fifty-Sixth Session of Working Group B of the Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO

Thank you, Mr. Chair.
With regard to the appointment of the Chairperson of WGB, Japan expresses its respect of Norway and Paraguay following the decision to reach consensus on this issue, and would like to congratulate Mr. Erlan Batyrbekov, Director General of the National Nuclear Center of the Republic of Kazakhstan, on his appointment. I assure you of my delegation's full support in your work toward strengthening the verification regime.
We welcome the signature and the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) by the Republic of Cuba and the ratification of the Treaty by the Union of the Comoros. The growing number of States Signatories demonstrates the advancement of the CTBT. We urge all States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Treaty without further delay, in particular the remaining eight States listed in Annex 2, for further advancement of the CTBT.
[IMS and IDC]
Mr. Chair,
Japan pays respect to the ongoing efforts of the PTS and States Signatories for maintaining their core functions in detecting nuclear tests despite the difficult situation of the current pandemic. On the other hand, we are concerned that recovery of some IMS stations were delayed due to COVID-19 visit restrictions. In this regard, we would like the PTS to make further efforts to strengthen the business continuity plan of the CTBTO.
All five auxiliary seismic stations in Japan were upgraded last year in order to contribute to not only improving their data availability but also obtaining higher quality data. They will be revalidated this year. In this respect, let me take this opportunity to thank the PTS for its full support.

Mr. Chair,
The build-up exercises (BUEs) to be held in 2021 are important opportunities to test what we have learned so far from the OSI action plan and the third OSI training cycle. We are looking forward to further detailed information on the current status of preparations for the BUEs at this WGB.
[Mobile noble gas measurement system] 

Mr. Chair,
With regard to direct and clear guidance for further activities of the PTS on the issue of noble gas background characterization, we would like to thank Ambassador Laggner of Switzerland and Ambassador Molekane of South Africa for their efforts as Co-facilitators on this important issue.
Out of six nuclear tests conducted by North Korea, only on one occasion was the IMS radionuclide station RN38 in Takasaki, Japan, able to detect clear signals of noble gas derived from those tests. This implies that it's quite difficult to understand the noble gas background by using IMS data alone, although an understanding of the background is essential to strengthen the capability of detecting nuclear tests.
Since past campaigns of transportable noble gas systems has shown its effectiveness, we hope that the current campaign in Japan can continue to contribute to further understanding of the xenon background.
We welcome new voluntary contributions from the European Union to support the current campaign. Japan continues to support the activities of the PTS through operating the transportable noble gas systems.
[Civil and scientific applications of IMS data] 

Mr. Chair,
Civil and scientific applications of IMS data provide significant benefits to States Signatories, including capacity building of NDCs. We believe that the growing recognition of the benefits derived from civil and scientific applications of the CTBTO data will further strengthen the momentum towards the entry into force of the CTBT and its universalization.
In this context, Japan welcomes the signature of a tsunami warning agreement between Chile and the PTS. Since Japan signed the agreement with the PTS in 2008, the Northwest Pacific Tsunami Advisory Center operated by Japan Meteorological Agency has issued Tsunami warnings by using IMS data and has contributed to the mitigation of tsunami disaster in that region. Ten years ago, on March 11, Japan experienced an unprecedented earthquake and tsunami. As a country that is well aware of the devastation of tsunami, we support enhancing cooperation between the PTS and the states signatories in this area.
Japan requests the PTS to promote further civil and scientific applications and hopes that the Science and Technology conference to be held in June 2021 will provide a good opportunity to promote such applications.
[Closing remarks] 

Mr. Chair,
We look forward to fruitful outcomes at this WGB session, in order to achieve the common goal of all States Signatories implementation and steady build-up of the verification regime.
I thank you, Mr. Chair.