Japan destroys stockpile of 1 million landmines
TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi announced the destruction of the country’s one million land mines at the weekend and said he would urge other nations to follow suit.
“This is not an end,” Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Saturday, after a ceremony marking the end of the three-year project which was carried out in line with an international pact.
“We want to spread around the world the movement for abolition of land mines,” Koizumi told reporters at an airbase in Shiga, central Japan, after the last batch of 25 mines were detonated.
On Sunday, major newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun called on Japan to persuade the United States, Russia, China and India, which have the biggest stockpiles of anti-personnel land mines in the world, as well as Pakistan to sign the Ottawa Treaty. Japan and 130 other countries have ratified the 1997 convention against the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of such mines.
Japan can still keep about 15,000 mines for research and training as an exception.
The Yomiuri editiorial said the other countries had cited security as the reason for not joining the treaty. “But Japan went ahead to sign it, taking the risk in such an aspect. Japan should emphasise this point and continue persuading them.”
There are more than 100 million anti-personnel land mines deployed in more than 60 countries in the world. Nearly 20,000 people a year are injured or killed by land mines. “The international trend is moving in the opposite direction from the abolition of land mines,” said another major daily, the Asahi Shimbun.
It noted a US move to stockpile mines in countries surrounding Iraq ahead of a possible war, as well as the mounting nuclear standoff on the Korean peninsula which is infested with the devices. —AFP
War on Iraq may be unavoidable: Tokyo
TOKYO: Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Sunday Iraq’s refusal to fully cooperate with UN arms inspections might make war unavoidable. Speaking on a television talk show, she also hinted Japan could conditionally support the United States launching military strikes against Iraq without a new UN resolution. “First of all, Iraq must show it is all set” to provide proof it has destroyed its weapons of mass destruction, she said on TV Asahi network. “Just speaking words is not enough.” “Even if we say we are opposed to the use of military force, such action on an international basis cannot help but be taken if Iraq vows not to do anything at all,” Kawaguchi added. “It is up to Iraq.” She also said, “Most important for Japan’s national interests is the establishment of a system to prevent weapons of mass destruction from spreading.” “Even if we say that a new (UN) resolution must be adopted, we must think at a higher level about how we solve the matter,” she said, “because it is undesirable that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction are handed over to terrorists.” The last comment was taken by local media to suggest Japan may support a US-led attack on Iraq without approval from a new UN resolution. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has said a new UN resolution was “desirable” before going to war against Iraq. At the same time, he has defended US aggressive approach. —AFP