Japan ratifies int’l treaty to outlaw cluster bombs

Japan on Tuesday ratified an international treaty to ban the use and stockpiling of cluster bombs, bringing the number of signatory countries to 14, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions will enter into force six months after the 30th state submits its ratification.

Once the pact takes effect, signatories are required to stop using cluster bombs immediately and to dispose of their stockpiles in eight years. The pact also says signatories should provide adequate care for the victims and clear contaminated areas.

After Japan submitted its acceptance of the convention to the United Nations, Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone issued a statement Wednesday saying that the Japanese government will continue to play an ''active role'' in disposing dud bombs and supporting the victims.

The Japanese parliament gave final endorsement to the signing of the treaty in June. A legislation to ban the production of cluster bombs and restrict their possession was also enacted Friday.

Cluster bombs are air-dropped or ground-launched munitions that eject a number of small bomblets to kill enemy personnel or disable armored vehicles. Humanitarian groups have criticized their use because civilians have fallen victim to the duds long after conflicts have ended.

Cluster bombs have been used in numerous wars, including World War II and the Vietnam War. They were used as recently as in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Because the ejected bomblets are small and often have bright colors, children tend to mistake them for toys and become victims.

(Distributed by Kyodo News on July 15, 2009)