Japan on Oct. 21 joined 124 other countries in signing a United Nations statement that underlines the inhuman nature of nuclear weapons and calls for the nonuse of such weapons. This is the first time that Japan has supported such a joint statement despite its being the only nation to have suffered from nuclear attacks. Now that Japan has signed the statement, it should play a constructive role in global efforts to realize the abolition of nuclear weapons.
If Japan had not signed this time, the international community could have doubted its seriousness on the matter. Japan had stopped short of signing similar joint statements issued in May and October 2012 and last April because it held that the phrase against nuclear weapons being used “under any circumstances” was incompatible with its policy of relying on the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
The Japanese government faced strong criticism from survivors of the August 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and by the mayors of the two cities for its failure to support the three earlier statements.
The countries that possess or are suspected to possess nuclear weapons did not sign the past and latest statements. But this time, about two-thirds of the 193 U.N. member countries signed the statement, demonstrating that an opinion pushing for the nonuse of nuclear weapons and eventual abolition of such weapons is becoming strong in the international community.
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