Japan is set to sign a United Nations joint statement calling for a ban on the use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Tokyo will uphold the statement on nuclear disarmament, a landmark move that will put the nuclear-powered country among the ranks of more than 80 nations that have signed the document.
In April, Japan refused to sign a similar statement drafted by Switzerland at a preparatory meeting in Geneva for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference. The Japanese government refused to endorse the statement which it said would contradict its security policy of relying on the US nuclear umbrella.
Kishida said he had asked New Zealand’s foreign minister to adjust the wording in the latest statement.
Kishida, a native of Hiroshima, said Japan knows the misery caused by nuclear weapons.
Over the weekend, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest against nuclear power. Demonstrators carried signs with slogans such as “stop the atom” and “don’t pollute the sea.”
The rally on Sunday came weeks after the No. 4 reactor at the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui prefecture, Japan’s last active reactor, went offline for maintenance on September 15.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has assured the International Olympic Committee that leaks at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant were under control. However, the ongoing crisis at the damaged plant has drawn attention to Tepco’s management of the situation.
Protesters also took aim at Abe’s “lies.” “I can’t condone the lie Abe told to bring the Olympics to Tokyo,” said Noriko Iwata, 63, from the city of Saitama.
Abe has admitted Japan needs assistance from the international community to contain tons of irradiated water that may have spilled into the Pacific Ocean and decommission all of the remaining reactors.
By Maesie Bertumen