TOKYO — Japan has decided not to support a draft U.N. resolution urging the start of negotiations in 2017 to outlaw nuclear weapons, a senior Japanese official and other sources close to the matter said.
Japan, the world’s sole victim of atomic bombings, will consider either abstaining or voting against the draft at the General Assembly this week because it would only “further deepen the rift between nuclear and non-nuclear states and meaningful treaty negotiations cannot be expected,” the senior official said.
Although the draft is likely to be adopted by a majority vote, the United States and other states possessing nuclear weapons are expected to boycott the negotiations.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and other senior members of the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to make a final decision soon on Japan’s position, the sources said.
The draft, submitted by Austria and others to the First Committee on disarmament and security issues at the General Assembly on Oct. 13, sets out to establish a mandate on a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.”
The United States has been urging Japan to oppose the draft, the sources said. It remains to be seen whether Japan, which comes under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, will decide to join the talks to ban nuclear weapons expected to start in March next year.
The draft resolution had drawn support from nearly 50 countries in Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America and other regions by the end of last week. The submitting countries have stressed the humanitarian impact of the use of nuclear weapons.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry is unsupportive of the resolution, questioning its effectiveness with nuclear powers reluctant to join the treaty negotiations. The ministry also believes the draft does not take into consideration security aspects such as the impact of the loss of nuclear deterrence, the sources added.
But such a stance by the Japanese government could trigger opposition at home and disappoint states supportive of the resolution.