TOKYO: The Japanese government has decided to sign for the first time a joint statement to be issued at the United Nations (UN) calling on countries not to use nuclear weapons under any circumstances, Japanese government sources said on Thursday.
Similar UN statements have been drafted three times before but Japan refused to endorse them on the grounds that they would contradict its policy of relying on the United States (US) nuclear umbrella, they said.
Tokyo will join more than 80 other countries in upholding the statement to be released, possibly on October 17, at the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, as it has confirmed with New Zealand, one of the drafters of the initiative, that the document will not be legally binding, the sources said.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, a native of Hiroshima, is eager to promote nuclear disarmament and thought it would not be desirable for Japan to continue opposing UN initiatives calling on nations not to use nuclear weapons, they said.
People in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which suffered US atomic bombings in 1945, have criticized Japan’s past refusal to sign UN documents on nuclear arsenals.
Hiroshima is scheduled to host a foreign ministers’ meeting of the 10-member Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative group in 2014.