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Japan’s political parties need to discuss more about whether the country should take part in the U.N. nuclear weapons ban treaty as an observer, a member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN, said.

“All candidates should clarify their position and discuss (the matter),” Akira Kawasaki, a member of ICAN’s international steering committee, said in a recent interview, referring to the Oct. 31 general election.

Some opposition parties and Komeito, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s coalition partner, support Japan gaining observer status for the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Kawasaki said.

But most LDP lawmakers have avoided clarifying their stance on the matter, he said. ICAN, a coalition of disarmament activists, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for helping to achieve the treaty, which came into force in January this year.

He asked political parties to discuss whether the country should tolerate nuclear weapons and whether nuclear arsenals around the world should be reduced.

Observer status allows a nonsignatory country to express opinions at a meeting of signatories to the treaty, Kawasaki said. The first meeting of signatories to the treaty is scheduled to take place in March next year.

“It is of symbolic significance for Japan to take part, as the world’s only atomic-bombed country, as the treaty underscores the inhumanness of nuclear weapons,” he said.

The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were devastated by the U.S. atomic bombings in August 1945 in the closing days of World War II.

Kawasaki said that if Japan wants to coordinate between nuclear and nonnuclear states, it should hold talks with the United States and other nuclear powers and relay their voices to nonnuclear states at a meeting of signatories to the treaty.

“It doesn’t make sense for Japan not to participate in order to coordinate (between nuclear and nonnuclear states),” Kawasaki said.

He said it is regrettable that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who has been pushing for nuclear disarmament as a politician elected from Hiroshima, has yet to mention the treaty since taking office early this month.

Kawasaki said that companies have stopped making land mines and cluster bombs after treaties helped to spread the recognition that these weapons should not be used.

The nuclear weapons ban treaty “will exert significant pressure” if the number of signatories rises, he said. “The question that Japan faces is whether it will take part in this movement or not.”

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