Britain’s plan to halve its nuclear arsenal drew praise Thursday from Chief Cabinet Secretary Kanezo Muraoka, who said Japan earnestly welcomes the “courageous” decision.

“Japan highly appreciates what the British government decided as a courageous action to promote the international trend toward nuclear disarmament,” Muraoka told a regular news conference.

The British government announced Wednesday during a session of Parliament that it plans to cut by one-third the number of its active nuclear warheads.

Muraoka said Japan, which has called on the international community to take realistic and specific measures to create a world without atomic weapons, predicts the decision will promote global efforts toward nuclear disarmament.

The top government spokesman went on to say Japan hopes other countries possessing nuclear weapons will follow Britain’s lead and take visible steps toward disarmament.

Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi issued a similarly worded statement, welcoming Britain’s decision to slash the maximum number of nuclear warheads on its Trident submarines. He said the move is courageous and encourages efforts by the international community toward nuclear disarmament.

Japan hopes the world will someday be free of nuclear weapons, and the decision by Britain will hopefully encourage other nuclear countries to promote disarmament efforts, Obuchi said.

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