Japan remains on sidelines of treaty to abolish atomic weapons

Tokyo, Oct 26 (efe-epa).- Japan reiterated Monday its commitment to promote efforts to abolish atomic weapons, but said its decision not to sign the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons remains unchanged.

“More than the treaty itself, we will strongly encourage the international community to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons,” Japan’s Chief of Staff and Minister Spokesman Katsunobu Kato said Monday.

This is Japan’s first official reaction to the Saturday United Nations announcement of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which will come into force Jan. 22 and has not been signed by atomic powers.

Japan has presumably not done so either over its dependence on the United States for security issues, despite being the only country that has been attacked with nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in the final stage of World War II.

“Taking into account that the treaty … has a different approach from that of Japan, we have made known our decision not to sign it, and that idea remains unchanged,” the minister spokesman said.

Kato said that taking into account global threats, it is “appropriate” to move toward nuclear disarmament, while responding “appropriately to security threats, including maintaining and strengthening deterrence.”

He said there are efforts in which both countries without nuclear weapons and atomic powers must be linked, countries that Kato did not mention but that include the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom.

Today’s comments are the same as those Japan has maintained since efforts to reach this treaty began more than three years ago, although other sectors have strongly criticized that position.

Victims of the atomic attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are among such critics, who have demanded that the country adheres to the treaty.

“Can the atomic-bombed country stand by and watch events from the sidelines?” 78-year-old Toshiyuki Mimaki, acting head of the Hiroshima victims, said at a news conference.

“I would like the government to change that attitude,” he added.

Efforts to move towards the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons were driven by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

The entry into force of the pact will be 90 days after Honduras became the 50th state to ratify the text, as announced Saturday by the UN. EFE-EPA


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