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The House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously approved the signing of an international treaty to ban the use and stockpiling of cluster bombs, which have been blamed for causing numerous civilian casualties.

With the opposition-controlled House of Councilors also set to give its approval, the treaty is certain to be ratified during the current Diet session. About ¥200 million has been earmarked in the fiscal 2009 budget for research on ways to dispose of cluster bombs in the Self-Defense Forces’ arsenal.

“From now on, it is important to step up efforts to urge countries that have yet to sign or conclude the treaty to do so,” Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said before the Lower House voted approval.

Japan joined about 100 other countries last December in signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo. The convention will enter into force after it is ratified by 30 nations.

Signatory nations are required to dispose of their stockpiles of cluster bombs within eight years.

Despite Japan’s embrace of the treaty, Defense Ministry officials have been concerned that the ban would diminish the country’s ability to deter an invasion.

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