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Japan opposition leader makes pledge on US nukes

Yukio Hatoyama. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 23, 2009
Japan's opposition leader said Sunday he was determined to make President Barack Obama promise not to let US forces bring nuclear arms onto Japanese territory, one week ahead of general elections.

"I wouldn't let them in," said Yukio Hatoyama, seen as the likely new prime minister, as he appeared in a television debate before elections that are widely expected to see the end of the ruling party's long reign.

"I can only work with resolution. I would hold out until I make him okay it (a ban)," said Hatoyama, who may meet Obama in the United States in September. He added he was "confident" on persuading the US president.

Although not inscribed in law, Japan in 1968 adopted the "three non-nuclear principles" -- not possessing or producing nuclear weapons, or allowing them on its territory.

Suffering devastation from the two US atomic attacks towards the end of World War II, Japan regularly speaks out in favour of a nuclear-free world.

But former top diplomats have told local media that a secret pact allowing visits by US ships carrying nuclear arms exists.

Hatoyama told the debate that it was "highly probable" that the two countries have the secret accord, although the Japanese government has denied this.

The opposition leader has said he would visit the US for UN general assembly meetings and a global finance summit next month if he comes to power. Japanese media said a Japan-US summit would likely take place around September 23.

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