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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Hiroshi Ota, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Hiroshi Ota was responsible for scientific affairs at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1960-1989. In the interview he discusses Japan's involvement in the international non-proliferation movement, and the country's peaceful nuclear energy program. He starts by discussing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968, explaining that Japan thought it unfair that the NPT divided the countries into a nuclear country versus non-nuclear country binary. He wanted Japan to be able to contribute on equal terms to the world as a non-nuclear country, rather than being treated as second-class because of its decision to forego atomic weapons. He discusses the development of Japan's relations with the United States, including negotiations led by Joseph Nye. He remarks that Japan's main focus was energy security, which was tied to the United States, since the latter supplied Japan's nuclear fuel. He also explains Japan's commitment to non-proliferation at home, repeated by their constitution, three non-nuclear principles, and their ratification of the NPT. Based on this extreme commitment, Mr. Ota is frustrated that President Carter's Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act treats Japan on the same footing as other countries that have not committed themselves to non-proliferation. He worries that the Act might hinder the day-to-day functioning of the Japanese nuclear industry. Overall, Ota describes himself as dedicated to the success and development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, while supporting non-proliferation internationally.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Carter's New World
Program Number



Interview with Hiroshi Ota, 1987

Series Description

The first atomic explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, changed the world forever. This series chronicles these changes and the history of a new era. It traces the development of nuclear weapons, the evolution of nuclear strategy, and the politics of a world with the power to destroy itself.

In thirteen one-hour programs that combine historic footage and recent interviews with key American, Soviet, and European participants, the nuclear age unfolds: the origin and evolution of nuclear weapons; the people of the past who have shaped the events of the present; the ideas and issues that political leaders, scientists, and the public at large must confront, and the prospects for the future. Nuclear Age highlights the profound changes in contemporary thinking imposed by the advent of nuclear weapons. Series release date: 1/1989

Program Description

President Carter comes to office determined to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and to improve relations with the Soviet Union. His frustrations are as grand as his intentions.

Carter had hoped the United States and the Soviet Union would reduce their reliance on nuclear weapons. He stopped production of the B-1 bomber. He believed the SALT II negotiations would be a step toward eliminating nuclear weapons. But his intentions were frustrated by Soviet actions and by a lack of consensus among his own advisors, including Chief SALT II negotiator Paul Warnke and national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski (who was dubious about arms control). Carter balanced Soviet aggression in Africa by improving American relations with China. He withdrew SALT II treaty from Senate consideration but its terms continued to serve as general limits on strategic nuclear force levels for both the United States and the Soviet Union.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


United States
Nye, Joseph S.
United States. Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978
Nuclear Suppliers Group
Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1968)
Renunciation of war -- Japan
Nuclear nonproliferation
Nuclear energy
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Tokyo, Japan
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Ota, Hiroshi, 1936- (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Hiroshi Ota, 1987,” 02/25/1987, GBH Archives, accessed June 14, 2024,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Hiroshi Ota, 1987.” 02/25/1987. GBH Archives. Web. June 14, 2024. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Hiroshi Ota, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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