• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday called on all nuclear weapons states to increase transparency in their capability as he pledged his utmost for the adoption of a final document at a U.N. conference on nuclear nonproliferation.

Born into a family from Hiroshima Prefecture, whose capital was devastated by a 1945 U.S. atomic bombing, Kishida told a nuclear disarmament meeting that Japan will take the lead in bringing nations with differing positions on nuclear arms together to focus on promoting coordination in efforts toward a world free of such weapons.

“Unfortunately, the reality facing the world is that discussion has not progressed over reducing the number of nuclear weapons, let alone nuclear abolishment. Rather, there are fears that the number of nuclear weapons will increase,” Kishida told the virtual meeting of government officials and experts from Japan and abroad, organized by the Foreign Ministry.

“The upcoming review conference is an opportunity to make the NPT foundation more solid and to rebuild a relationship of trust between nuclear and nonnuclear weapons states, and its outcome should lead to an exit, or a world free of nuclear weapons,” Kishida said.

Kishida unveiled a plan to dispatch Minoru Terada, his special adviser on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, to relevant countries in a bid to lay the groundwork for the U.N. conference on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in January.

The U.N. review conference is held every five years to check its operation. It was initially due to take place in 2020 but was postponed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As foreign minister, Kishida attended the previous one in 2015 that ended without a final document due to disagreements.

Thursday’s meeting is a forum for participants from nuclear and nonnuclear weapons states to exchange views ahead of the January conference.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile development has been a security concern for Japan, which relies on the nuclear umbrella of longtime security ally the United States. The growing influence of China, which has nuclear weapons, also keeps Japan on alert.

In his remarks at the virtual meeting attended by Gustavo Zlauvinen, president-designate of the NPT review conference, Kishida welcomed the U.S. move to resume its disclosure of nuclear weapons stockpiles to increase its transparency.

As for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Japan has not joined it, defying calls from atomic bomb survivors. Kishida has acknowledged the treaty is an important one for a nuclear-free world but does not see it as an effective means to achieve that goal with no nuclear weapons states taking part.

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