Japan has endorsed for the first time a U.N. statement opposing the use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances, Xinhua reported Tuesday
The joint statement, initially put forward by New Zealand, denounces such weapons and says human survival requires that they never be used.
Japan opposed similar statements in the past, saying they were incompatible with its security, which depends on U.S. nuclear deterrence. It has declined to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty for the same reason.
But Japanese officials said the statement Tokyo signed on Monday has been re-worded to take into account its concerns. They say the new version acknowledges the reality that some countries want to phase out such weapons over time rather than doing so right away.
The Japan Times reported
that in contrast to last year’s language, this year’s statement was silent on “outlawing” nuclear arsenals.
At the same time, the Japanese government has come under pressure from residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to sign the New Zealand statement, according to Xinhua.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said that Tokyo “understands firsthand the sheer horror of nuclear weapons,”while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga emphasized the government’s support of a nuclear-weapon-free world.
On Tuesday, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said he welcomed the move, as did Nagasaki Mayor TomihisaTaue.
Almost 250,000 people are estimated to have died when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
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