Japan condemns chemical weapons use in Syria following U.N. report

Japan "strongly condemns" once again the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday, following the submission overnight of a report to the U.N. Security Council concluding that the nerve gas agent sarin was used in the August attack on civilians near Damascus.

Tokyo will closely watch developments at the United Nations and whether Syria will follow through in a sincere manner on a U.S.-Russian agreement on a plan to eliminate its chemical weapons, Kishida told a news conference.

The foreign minister also called for a cessation of violence in Syria, a start of political dialogue between warring parties and improvement in humanitarian conditions inside the country.

While refraining from assigning blame to any party for the sarin attack on Aug. 21 in the suburbs of the Syrian capital, Kishida said the report provides "useful analysis" into rockets used in the attack to determine the facts of the incident.

"Our country, too, needs to consider this point," he said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a separate news conference that in cooperation with other countries, Japan intends to steadily contribute to efforts at preventing chemical weapons from being used again.

On Monday, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon submitted a report to the Security Council in which a team of experts concluded that sarin was used in the attack, which the United States said killed more than 1,400 people, including hundreds of children.

Without assigning blame for the attack, the 38-page report said several surface-to-surface rockets were identified and recorded at investigated sites and that "samples later confirmed to contain sarin were recovered from a majority of the rockets or rocket fragments."

While the United States and its allies have blamed the government of President Bashar al-Assad for the attack, the Syrian government has said opposition forces carried it out.