Japan PM airs regret, blames Russia for opposition at nuke confab

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Saturday expressed his disappointment after a review conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ended without an outcome document, saying Russia should take the blame for its opposition.

Kishida said maintaining and strengthening the NPT is "the only realistic approach" to nuclear disarmament, as he is pushing for a world without nuclear weapons as a lawmaker representing a constituency in atomic-bombed Hiroshima.

Russia, which continues its aggression against Ukraine, opposed the final draft of a consensus document at the end of the roughly monthlong NPT review conference in New York, with references to the Russian-seized Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine a point of contention.

"It is extremely regrettable that no consensus was reached due to opposition by one country, which is Russia," Kishida told reporters remotely from his official residence where he has been recuperating from COVID-19.

Kishida became the first Japanese leader to attend the NPT review conference earlier this month to deliver a speech.

He unveiled an action plan toward realizing a nuclear-free world, though acknowledging that the road ahead looks increasingly rough following Russia's war on Ukraine.

As foreign minister, he also saw no consensus document produced after the previous round in 2015 due to disagreements among the participants.

The NPT has both nuclear powers and non-nuclear states as its members.

"It's proof that many countries are of the view that maintaining and strengthening the NPT regime is beneficial for the whole of the international community," Kishida said, stressing the significance of the review conference.

Kishida has been seeking to send out a message of peace from Hiroshima when Japan hosts a summit of the Group of Seven major economies next year.

During a conference on African development on Saturday, the Japanese leader also said he was "extremely disappointed" by the conclusion of the NPT conference without consensus. "As we move toward a world without nuclear weapons, we will be working closely with African nations," he said in his online speech.

Hiroshima was devastated by an atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Aug. 6, 1945, along with Nagasaki, which was hit three days later.

© Kyodo News