Visiting Japan, Ban stresses need to move towards nuclear weapons-free world

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3 August - On the first day of his visit to Japan ahead of the commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city of Hiroshima, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the world to work to ensure that nuclear weapons were eliminated.

“We must do everything we can to build on the current global momentum towards a nuclear-weapon-free world,” Mr. Ban told reporters in Tokyo, where he also had a working dinner with Japan's Foreign Minister, Katsuya Okada.

He highlighted the Security Council summit on nuclear disarmament in September last year, the extension of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the United States and Russia and the summit on nuclear security in Washington in April this year as positive signs of movement towards a nuclear-free world.

Later this week he will visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima for commemoration activities related to the bombings in those cities in August 1945.

In a response to a reporter's question, Mr. Ban said he will use his presence at the commemoration events to “to send out to the international community a strong message to the whole world that we must strive harder to realize a world free of nuclear weapons and proliferation.”

Today, the Secretary-General and Mr. Okada discussed cooperation between the United Nations and Japan, which is the second largest contributor to the UN regular budget and to that of UN peacekeeping operations.

Mr. Ban lauded Japan's contribution across the range of matters of UN concern during his discussions with Mr. Okada, which also touched on regional issues, including the Korean Peninsula, Afghanistan, Iran, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, as well as conflict in Somalia.

“Japan's engagement goes well beyond financing. It extends across the whole spectrum of the UN agenda and goals – from climate change to counter-terrorism, from peacebuilding in Africa to human security and our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). And of course, Japan is a leader on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament,” the Secretary-General said.

The Secretary-General is tomorrow scheduled to exchange views on international issues with university students and have a meeting with Prime Minister Naoto Kan.