Japan goes along with U.S. in shunning U.N. talks on nuclear ban via The Asahi Shimbun

Japan has opted out of the first U.N. talks on establishing a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, betraying its pledge to serve as a “bridge” between the nuclear powers and non-nuclear countries.

Taking the podium at the meeting that began in New York on March 27, Japanese disarmament ambassador Nobushige Takamizawa said Tokyo will not join the discussions on grounds the treaty has no realistic chance of being taken seriously by the established nuclear powers.

Washington, which is opposed to a ban treaty, is not taking part in the talks. Nor are the other nuclear powers.

Japan’s decision reflects the “intention of the prime minister’s office not to do something that might ruffle U.S. President Donald Trump’s feathers,” according to a source in the Japanese government.

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Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida defended Japan’s decision not to join in the talks. He told reporters in Tokyo on March 28 that Japan’s participation in the negotiations could backfire.

“It could prove counterproductive as it could deepen the rift between the nuclear powers and non-nuclear powers,” he said.

His comment represented a complete about-face from a remark he made last October, when the push for a ban was announced by more than 100 U.N. members.

“We will actively join and assert our stance,” Kishida said at the time, stressing the importance of cooperation between the nuclear powers and non-nuclear powers.

Kishida, who is from a constituency in Hiroshima, also spearheaded efforts to achieve an epoch-making visit to the city by President Barack Obama last May. The U.S. leader was the first sitting president to do so.

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