Abe welcomes OPCW winning Nobel Peace Prize

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday welcomed the awarding of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, saying he "highly appreciates" the OPCW's efforts with the United Nations to eliminate such weapons from war-torn Syria.

Abe said the Hague-based chemical weapons watchdog has contributed greatly to efforts to achieve a total ban and nonproliferation of such weapons since its establishment in 1997.

The prime minister pledged Japan's continued support for the OPCW's mission.

A team of United Nations and OPCW inspectors began work Sunday to destroy Syrian military assets related to chemical warfare with the aim of eliminating all Syrian chemical weapons by mid-2014.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera also hailed the Nobel Committee's selection of the OPCW as this year's Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Kishida said Japan will continue to cooperate with the watchdog "as much as possible so that chemical weapons will never be used again."

Onodera said Japan will "contribute to peace and stability in the international community by supporting global arms control and disarmament efforts."

So far, six officers of Japan's Self-Defense Forces have been dispatched to the OPCW.