Thank you, Chair. 

Let me start by thanking H.E. Ambassador Nguyen Trung Kien, Permanent Representative of Viet Nam, for his commitment in organizing and leading this Working Group A (WGA) session, as well as the PTS for its dedicated work. 

I also appreciate the Executive Secretary, Dr. Robert Floyd, for his opening statements. 

Mr. Chair,
We welcome the ratification of the CTBT by Solomon Islands this January, and six other States in 2022. Japan applauds these achievements and the vigorous outreach activities by the Executive Secretary, and urges 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, in order to further advance the CTBT. 

As the only country to have suffered atomic bombings during war, Japan is strongly committed to leading international efforts toward a world without nuclear weapons. Convening this year's G7 Summit in Hiroshima is a demonstration of such conviction and we have sent a strong message for realizing a world without nuclear weapons during the summit, including through the adoption of the G7 Leaders’ Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament. In the Vision, the G7 countries emphasized the importance of the early entry into force of the CTBT, and expressed its support for the CTBTO. 

In addition, as part of our efforts to support universalization and the early entry into force of the Treaty, as well as to strengthen the verification regime, Japan will host the CTBT Regional Meeting in Japan this July. We strongly expect active participation from as many countries as possible.Mr. Chair,
In consideration of the crisis in Ukraine, the threat of nuclear weapons, let alone their use, should never be tolerated. Japan condemns any act that could undermine the effectiveness of the CTBT’s verification system. 

Japan also expresses serious concerns over North Korea’s intensified nuclear and missile activities. At the end of last year, North Korea revealed its policy of mass-production of tactical nuclear weapons and an “exponential” increase of its nuclear arsenal. If Pyongyang, which has such an offensive nuclear posture, conducts a nuclear test again, this test needs to be recognized as something completely different from the previous six tests, and the international community should be united against such an act. We urge North Korea to comply with its obligations under the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, return to full compliance with the NPT at an early date and to sign and ratify the CTBT. 

Mr. Chair,
We thank the PTS for issuing the initial draft budget for 2024-2025. While we appreciate their efforts under these difficult fiscal conditions, we reiterate that Japan’s basic position toward the budget of international organizations is, and will be, Zero Nominal Growth (ZNG). 

While pursuing efficiency, it is also important to work on fulfilling the needs on a medium and long term basis. In this context, we appreciate the issuance of the Mid-term strategy through 2025 by the PTS. We would also appreciate an early explanation of the PTS’s strategies regarding the activities listed in Annex III of the Budget Proposals. 

Mr. Chair,
We welcome the PTS’s efforts to organize the Science and Technology Conference 2023. Japan expects many of our experts to attend the meeting. We believe that the conference will provide a valuable opportunity to not only strengthen the verification regime, but also the civil and scientific applications of the verification technologies. 

Mr. Chair,
Japan appreciates all efforts undertaken by the PTS to achieve gender parity and expects continuous efforts to increase the representation of women, in particular in the Professional and higher categories. We look forward to further improvements and updates. 

Mr. Chair,
We expect this meeting to make excellent use of the efforts and time of all participating countries. Japan is ready to participate in meaningful and effective discussions. 

Thank you.