National / Politics

Japan reluctantly endorses 'undesirable' U.S. exit from INF nuclear arms pact with Russia

Kyodo

The government on Monday endorsed the U.S. decision to withdraw from a key Cold War-era arms control treaty with Russia, but stressed that the move is seen as “undesirable.”

“We understand the U.S. awareness of problems that led it to announce it will halt its obligations under the treaty,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a news conference.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Saturday that the United States had formally notified Russia of its intention to pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, accusing Moscow of violating the agreement that bans both countries from possessing land-based missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

“As the treaty has played a historic role in arms control and reduction, it is undesirable that the treaty be ended,” the top government spokesman added.

He also said Japan believes it necessary to consider missile development and deployment by countries other than the United States and Russia, apparently referring to China.

“The issue of missiles under the treaty is directly linked to security in East Asia. (Japan) will communicate with relevant countries, including Russia and China, while cooperating with the United States,” Suga said.

Japan was the target of U.S. atomic bombs at the end of World War II but now stands under that country’s nuclear umbrella.