China said on Monday that it is “extremely concerned” over news reports claiming that Japan had only recently agreed to return to the United States around 300 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium that it had been in possession of since the 60s. The US had been pressuring its ally to give back the nuclear material, which theoretically can be made into 50 nuclear bombs.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told the media during their regular briefing that Japan should honor its signature on the Non-Proliferation Treaty and “rigorously respect its international commitments to nuclear safety and non-proliferation.” She said that Japan’s refusal to return the plutonium is cause for concern from China and the international community. The material was obtained in the 60s for research purposes, but Japan’s Education Ministry said it is expected that the two allies will reach an agreement at the Nuclear Security Summit this coming March at The Hague.
Chunying also reminded Japan of its three non-nuclear principles, approved by the Japanese parliament in 1971, which states it will not produce, possess or allow entry of nuclear weapons into its territory. She said that following these rules is crucial to the stability and maintaining peace in the region. This comes after Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday hinted that they may allow the U.S. to bring in nuclear weapons into Japan in case of an emergency which may threaten the lives of its citizens. Japan is the only country in the world to have experienced nuclear attacks with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.
[ via Reuters ]