• Kyodo News


Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone may ask China to reduce its nuclear arsenal, government sources said.

Nakasone may make the request in an address on nuclear disarmament he will give on April 27 in Tokyo at the Japan Institute of International Affairs.

Prime Minister Taro Aso may also touch on the request when he meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders during his April 29-30 visit to China, the sources said Wednesday.

It would be unusual for a Cabinet minister to file such a request with China in an unequivocal fashion, they said.

In the address, Nakasone plans to say the nuclear powers must make efforts to reduce atomic weapons and ensure their nonproliferation to achieve a nuclear-free world, the sources said.

Nakasone is considering requesting that China reduce its atomic arsenal in a transparent way. He also plans to ask China to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty at an early date.

Also in the address, Nakasone plans to press North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions and demand that Pyongyang return soon to the six-party talks on denuclearizing the North, the sources said.

On Tuesday, North Korea declared it was withdrawing from the denuclearization talks, a day after the U.N. Security Council adopted a presidential statement condemning the North’s rocket launch April 5.

The six-party talks involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States have been stalled since December over ways to verify Pyongyang’s nuclear programs.

In addition, Nakasone plans to urge India and Pakistan to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Japan has every year since 1994 submitted a draft resolution to the United Nations urging all nuclear powers to curtail their arsenals.

The foreign minister’s planned speech will follow a landmark joint statement issued April 1 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in which the two leaders vowed to pursue a new deal to reduce nuclear warheads.

On April 5, Obama also pledged in a speech in Prague to lead a quest for a world free of nuclear weapons, saying the U.S. has “a moral responsibility to act” as the only nuclear power to have used an atomic weapon.

Nakasone’s planned speech on how to achieve a world without nuclear arms is in line with such recent moves and is intended to show Tokyo’s willingness to cooperate with Washington on the matter.

At the same time, it also seeks to ask China to act, as Beijing has not shown much enthusiasm for nuclear disarmament, the sources said.

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