• Kyodo

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The U.N. General Assembly on Monday adopted a Japan-sponsored resolution calling for the total elimination of nuclear arms for the 27th consecutive year.

The resolution came as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is set to take effect on Jan. 22, the first international norm outlawing the development, testing, possession and use of nuclear weapons.

But the resolution failed to mention the nuclear ban treaty, simply saying “various approaches exist toward the realization of a world without nuclear weapons and that confidence-building among all states is essential to this end.”

“The adoption promotes the creation of a common platform for countries to uniformly” make efforts to abolish nuclear weapons, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told a news conference in Tokyo.

“It gives momentum for the U.N. review conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty” next year, he said, referring to a gathering at which nuclear weapons states such as the United States, Russia and China hold discussions with nonnuclear weapons states.

In the vote, 150 countries supported the resolution, 10 fewer than last year, while four countries opposed it and 35 abstained.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council were divided in their response, with Britain and the United States backing the resolution, China and Russia opposing it and France abstaining.

The United States’ response marked a shift as it had abstained in the previous two years.

While the resolution stressed that “achieving a world without nuclear weapons is a common goal for the international community,” its description of the destructive consequences was subdued like last year.

The latest resolution recognized “the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from the use of nuclear weapons,” the same wording as last year’s resolution and weaker than the expression of “deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use” in the 2018 resolution.

Although Japan continues its push for the elimination of nuclear weapons it has refused to join the nuclear ban pact as the country is protected by U.S. nuclear deterrence.

None of the countries that possess nuclear weapons have signed the pact either.

“Japan shares the goal of the nuclear ban treaty to abolish nuclear weapons, but we also believe that to realize a world free of nuclear weapons it is indispensable to promote nuclear disarmament talks with the involvement of nuclear weapons countries,” Katsunobu Kato, the top government spokesman, told a separate news conference.

“Japan will continue to try to bridge differences between countries and proactively contribute to international discussions for progress on nuclear disarmament,” said the chief Cabinet secretary.

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