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Japanese conference on nuclear disarmament gaps to be held in Hiroshima in November

Kyodo

The first conference of a panel aimed at bridging the gap on disarmament between nuclear and nonnuclear countries is set to be held by the government in Hiroshima in November, Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Friday.

The panel of 16 experts from Japan and abroad will assemble on Nov. 27 and 28 in Hiroshima, which was destroyed by an A-bomb in 1945. Kono said he hopes they will “think thoroughly about what kind of initiative Japan should take.”

The panel is expected to deliver findings to Kono in March next year. The ministry hopes to present those findings at a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference to be convened in Geneva in April.

The move comes amid criticism of the Japanese government, including by survivors of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for its refusal to participate in a treaty banning nuclear weapons adopted by 122 U.N. members.

The world’s nuclear-armed states and countries under the protection of the U.S. nuclear umbrella also sat out the treaty negotiations.

“There are differences in thinking between countries with nuclear weapons and those without them, as well as between the non-nuclear weapons countries,” Kono said Friday.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the first conference of the “Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament” includes analysts and former officials from countries from both sides of the divide.

It is led by Takashi Shiraishi, President of the Institute of Developing Economies, a research body of the Japan External Trade Organization.