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The Diet on Wednesday endorsed the signing of an international treaty to ban the use and stockpiling of cluster bombs, paving the way for Tokyo to ratify the treaty.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions will enter into force six months after it has been ratified by the 30th state. So far, eight countries, including Ireland and Norway, have ratified the treaty, according to the Foreign Ministry.

However, the treaty has been snubbed by countries that produce cluster bombs, including the United States, Russia and China.

Once the treaty takes effect, signatories are required to immediately stop using cluster bombs and dispose of their stockpiles within eight years. The treaty also requires signatories to provide adequate care to victims of the munitions and clear contaminated areas.

The opposition-controlled House of Councilors unanimously approved the treaty during a plenary session Wednesday morning. The House of Representatives endorsed the measure in May.

The government has already budgeted about ¥200 million for the current fiscal year to examine ways to dispose of the cluster bombs the Air Self-Defense Force and Ground Self-Defense Force maintain in their arsenals.

Cluster bombs are munitions dropped from the air or launched from the ground that eject a number of small bomblets that can kill people and disable armored vehicles.

Humanitarian groups have criticized their use because civilians fall victim to their duds long after a conflict has ended. Because of the size and often bright colors of the small bomblets, children often mistake them for toys.

In response to growing international calls to ban the weapons, in May 2008 then Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda changed Japan’s earlier stance that favored only a partial ban. Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone signed the convention in Oslo in December, allowing Japan to join about 100 other countries opposed to the munitions.

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