204 Japanese parliamentarians deliver letter calling on President Obama to reduce the role of nuclear weapons

by Kohei Okata, Staff Writer

On February 19, Japanese Diet members from various parties submitted a letter for U.S. President Barack Obama to John Roos, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, calling on the United States to reduce the role of nuclear weapons. As many as 204 parliamentarians have offered their signatures in support of the letter.

Seven Diet members from both the ruling and opposition parties, including Hideo Hiraoka of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) from Yamaguchi's second constituency and Yasutoshi Nishimura from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), who have called for the initiative, met with Mr. Roos. They handed the letter requesting, among other things, that the United States declare that the "sole purpose" of nuclear weapons will be limited to deterring the use of nuclear weapons targeting the United States and its allies and that the United States should not adopt a nuclear policy which violates the three non-nuclear principles of Japan.

According to Mr. Hiraoka and others at a news conference, Mr. Roos welcomed the letter and promised to deliver it to Mr. Obama. However, Mr. Roos stated that giving the impression of weakening the nuclear deterrence for the U.S. allied nations would not be desirable and he stressed the need for a realistic approach. Regarding Mr. Obama's visit to Hiroshima, Mr. Roos has presented his view that the president has the intention of making such a visit.

Mr. Hiraoka said, "As Diet members of the A-bombed nation of Japan, we would like to offer encouragement to Mr. Obama, who has been pursuing a world without nuclear weapons." The breakdown of the 204 parliamentarians in support of the letter is as follows: 164 DPJ members, 10 members of the Social Democratic Party, 1 member of the People's New Party, 5 LDP members, 19 members of the New Komeito, 3 members of the Your Party, and 2 independent Diet members.

(Originally published on February 20, 2010)

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