Japan’s vote at the United Nations last week to oppose a resolution to start talks on a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons is regrettable. It contradicts the nation’s long-standing call for the elimination of such weapons as the sole country to have suffered nuclear attacks. Tokyo’s latest move — which reflects the government’s reliance on the U.S. nuclear umbrella for the nation’s security — not only runs counter to the wishes of survivors of the 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings but will weaken its voice in international efforts to rid the world of nuclear arms.
On Oct. 27, the First Committee of the U.N. General Assembly, which deals with disarmament and international security, adopted the resolution, with 123 nations voting in favor, 38 against it and 16 abstaining. Six nuclear powers — the United States, Russia, Britain, France and Israel — voted against it, backed by U.S. allies such as Japan, South Korea, Germany and Australia. Three nuclear powers — China, India and Pakistan — abstained. Surprisingly, North Korea, which recently carried out a fifth nuclear weapons test, voted in favor.