Japan should join with the 100-plus nations that have agreed to back a Canadian initiative to ban antipersonnel land mines, the ambassadors to Tokyo from Canada, Belgium, Austria, Norway and the Philippines said in a joint news conference June 12.

“Every day, numerous innocent people, up to 25,000 a year, are killed or maimed by antipersonnel land mines,” Belgian Ambassador Patrick Nothomb said. “Often they are civilians who are returning to their villages after soldiers have left.

“Because of the urgency of this humanitarian problem, something has to be done quickly,” Nothomb said, adding that the initiative is intended to circumvent the often slow procedures of the Geneva Conference on Disarmament. The ambassadors said they hope to negotiate a legally binding international treaty banning antipersonnel land mines by September.

Japan has not yet joined the nations backing the treaty. However, 383 Diet members signed a petition to ban land mines and submitted it to Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto this week.

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