Japan will sign for the first time a joint statement to be issued at the United Nations calling on countries not to use nuclear weapons under any circumstances, government sources said Thursday.
Similar U.N. statements have been drafted three times before, but Japan refused to endorse them on grounds that it would contradict its policy of relying on the U.S. nuclear umbrella, the sources said.
Tokyo will join more than 80 other countries in upholding the statement, which might be released at the First Committee of the U.N. General Assembly on Oct. 17, because it has confirmed with New Zealand, one of the drafters of the initiative, that the document will not be legally binding, the sources said.
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 U.N. initiatives calling on nations to shun nuclear weapons, they said.
Residents in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only two cities to be hit by atomic bombs, have criticized Japan’s refusal to sign U.N. documents against the use of nuclear arsenals.
Hiroshima is scheduled to host a foreign ministers’ meeting of the 10-member Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative group in 2014.