Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Saturday defended Japan's choice not to participate in U.N. talks toward a treaty banning nuclear weapons, saying that proceeding would risk deepening the rift between countries with nuclear stockpiles and those without them.

In an interview, the Hiroshima native said Japan's stance reflects the divide that could be seen on the first day of the ban treaty negotiations at the United Nations in March.

"If we push ahead with this initiative, the divide between the nuclear and non-nuclear countries will get increasingly severe, and in the end it won't make a real difference ... it won't lead to progress toward a world without nuclear weapons," Kishida said.