National

Japan's top diplomat Taro Kono mulls attending Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty meeting

Kyodo

Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Tuesday he is considering attending a meeting this spring of the preparatory committee for the 2020 review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“If various circumstances allow, I want to properly attend and explain the Japanese government’s position based on the recommendations of our eminent persons’ group,” Kono said after a Cabinet meeting.

At the second meeting of the NPT panel, to be held in Geneva starting in late April, Japan is scheduled to offer recommendations on the course of nuclear disarmament that are soon to be compiled by Foreign Ministry-appointees.

It is not clear whether Kono will be able to attend in view of the uncertainty over the situation surrounding North Korea, a U.N. diplomatic source said Monday.

But if he can, the source said, it would mark the second straight year that a Japanese foreign minister has taken part in the meeting and could further establish the country’s presence in the arena of international nuclear disarmament.

Japan sees itself as a bridge builder between nuclear-armed nations and non-nuclear countries at a time when the gulf between the two has been growing, particularly since the adoption last year of a landmark U.N. treaty outlawing nuclear weapons.

Then-Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida attended the first preparatory committee meeting in Vienna last year, and called on the international community to strengthen efforts against nuclear proliferation.

The second preparatory committee meeting is one of three to be held ahead of the 2020 NPT review conference. It will take place between April 23 and May 4.

Prior to the Vienna meeting, a 2015 review conference fell apart as parties failed to reach agreement and could not adopt a final document, largely due to a rift between the United States and Arab countries over discussions on efforts aimed at denuclearizing Israel.