• Kyodo

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Japan threw $200 million into the hat Wednesday to help fund a project backed by the Group of Eight major nations to dispose of decommissioned weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union, a Japanese official said.

The weapons are being gathered up and destroyed in a bid to prevent terrorists from using them as a source for bomb-making materials.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told a luncheon with his G8 counterparts at the Canadian Rockies resort of Kananaskis, Alberta, that the amount is all Japan will offer “for the time being.”

The United States has proposed that the G8 nations contribute a total of $10 billion over 10 years, meaning Tokyo will probably come under pressure to be more generous.

The initiative will involve decommissioning the region’s stocks of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

Koizumi said that curbing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in Russia and other countries “will lead to benefits in the three areas of disarmament and security, antiterrorism measures and other nonproliferation efforts, and environmental preservation.”

He added that 50 percent of Japan’s $200 million contribution should be put aside to help set up an international organization that will handle the disposal of surplus plutonium.

Koizumi also voiced dissatisfaction at the uncooperative stance taken by Moscow toward a separate project initiated by Japan in 1993 to help Russia decommission its nuclear weapons.

Moscow has received 25 billion yen for the plan, but 16.5 billion yen worth of projects have not yet been implemented due to Russia’s refusal to disclose certain military data, among other reasons, according to Tokyo.

“Russia has a big responsibility,” Koizumi said.

The G8 consists of the G7 states — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. — and Russia.

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