NEW YORK – Although it lacked the backing of the United States and other major nuclear powers, a Japan-sponsored draft resolution calling for the abolition of nuclear arms and encouraging people to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki was formally adopted by the U.N. General Assembly.
The majority endorsement in the plenary vote Monday followed approval of the nonbinding motion by the assembly’s First Committee on disarmament and security issues last month.
Japan has introduced resolutions on the same subject for 22 consecutive years, with all of them being adopted by the General Assembly.
However, this was the first time it included the invitation to visit “the cities devastated by nuclear weapons.”
This year’s version, which expresses “deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons” and urges all member states to work toward “a world free of nuclear weapons,” received backing from 166 countries, with 16 abstaining and three voting against it.
None of the five nuclear powers — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — endorsed the document.
Britain, France and the U.S. abstained after having supported the Japan-led initiative last year.
China and Russia, both of which abstained last year, voted against it this year, as did North Korea.
Noting that 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the resolution encourages “every effort to raise awareness of the humanitarian impact of the use of nuclear weapons, including through, among others, visits by leaders, youth and others, to the cities devastated by the use of nuclear weapons, and testimonies of the atomic bomb survivors.”
At the First Committee session on Nov. 2, where the draft passed with 156 votes, Beijing’s Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs Fu Cong criticized the reference as an attempt by Japan to portray itself as a victim of World War II and ignore “the havoc (Japan) wreaked on other nations.”
The resolution also condemns “in the strongest terms” the nuclear tests conducted by North Korea and its launches using ballistic missile technology, expressing “serious concern” about the country’s ongoing nuclear activities.