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Japan Pledges To IAEA To Shun Nukes

File photo of Mohamed ElBaradei. Photo courtesy AFP
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Dec 01, 2006
A top Japanese official Friday promised the chief of the UN nuclear watchdog that the country will not develop nuclear weapons, despite growing debate on the longtime taboo since North Korea's atomic test. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki told IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei that Japan stood by its 1967 three-point policy of refusing the production, possession or presence of nuclear weapons on its soil.

"Japan has been working to strengthen non-proliferation and disarmament efforts and there is no change in our three-point non-nuclear policy," Shiozaki told ElBaradei, according to a foreign ministry statement.

ElBaradei, speaking later in the day to a news conference, said: "I have been assured, obviously, by government officials here in Japan that Japan has no intention to abandon its non-nuclear policy."

Shiozaki, who is the government spokesman and right-hand man of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, spoke one day after outspoken Foreign Minister Taro Aso said Japan was able to produce nuclear weapons if it chose to do so.

Aso, who met late Thursday with ElBaradei, has been at the forefront of calls for Japan to consider the nuclear option in response to North Korea.

Abe has ruled out even discussing building nuclear weapons, but the issue has caused concern in neighboring countries haunted by Japan's past aggression.

Japan is the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack. US nuclear bombs obliterated the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the closing days of World War II, killing more than 210,000 people.

ElBaradei, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is visiting Japan in part for talks on North Korea, which on October 9 tested a nuclear bomb.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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