Japan should back UN treaty banning nuclear weapons, says Mahathir

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad delivering his acceptance speech in Fukuoka, Japan, yesterday after being conferred an honorary doctorate by the International University of Japan in recognition of his contributions to bilateral relations. H
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad delivering his acceptance speech in Fukuoka, Japan, yesterday after being conferred an honorary doctorate by the International University of Japan in recognition of his contributions to bilateral relations. He is on a two-day visit to Fukuoka until today.PHOTO: BERNAMA

FUKUOKA • Visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad yesterday said Japan, as the world's only country to have come under wartime nuclear attack, should support a United Nations treaty banning nuclear weapons.

In an interview with Kyodo News in the south-western Japanese city of Fukuoka, Tun Dr Mahathir also urged Japan and South Korea to try to resolve their dispute over historical and trade issues through dialogue, rather than confrontation.

"I think Japan is one country that should work hard to prohibit the use of nuclear weapons, in fact, to get rid of all nuclear weapons, because Japan is the only country in the world that suffered from bombing by nuclear device, so Japan knows how horrible it is when nuclear weapons are used," he said.

In arguing that Japan should sign the treaty banning nuclear weapons, Dr Mahathir said other countries could emulate Japan's Constitution, which bars it from waging war as a means of settling international disputes.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted in July 2017. So far, 70 countries and regions have become signatories, according to the UN office on disarmament.

The pact needs a total of 50 ratifications for it to come into effect. On Tuesday, the 74th anniversary of the United States' atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Bolivia became the 25th UN member to ratify it.

Countries with nuclear weapons, such as the US and China, have not joined the pact. Japan and others under the protection of the US nuclear umbrella have also stayed out of the treaty.

 

Dr Mahathir acknowledged Japan's need for fighting capabilities to defend itself, but expressed concern over a scenario under which a military-stronger Japan "might be persuaded by certain other countries to be aggressive".

The Malaysian leader is on a two-day visit to Fukuoka until today. The visit is his second to Japan this year, following one in May.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2019, with the headline 'Japan should back UN treaty banning nuclear weapons, says Mahathir'. Print Edition | Subscribe