Hiroshima, Nagasaki welcome Japan's endorsement of U.N. statement

The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Tuesday welcomed the Japanese government's endorsement of a U.N. statement on nuclear disarmament for the first time.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said he welcomed the move, which shows the Japanese government shares his city's wish for a world without nuclear weapons.

Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue told reporters the endorsement is a step toward a nuclear-free world.

Matsui also welcomed an increase in the number of countries that backed the U.N. statement to 125. Both Matsui and Taue asked the Japanese government to take leadership in guiding the countries endorsing the statement, which says that "it is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances."

Noting that Japan depends on the United States' nuclear umbrella, Taue said Japan has been unable to pull out of the Cold War structure.

The joint disarmament effort is a chance to establish a new international security structure, the Nagasaki mayor said.

Hiroshima came under atomic bombing on Aug. 6, 1945, and Nagasaki three days later in the closing days of World War II.

At a ceremony on Aug. 9 this year marking the 68th anniversary of Nagasaki's atomic bombing, Taue criticized the Japanese government's decision not to sign a similar statement against the use of nuclear weapons announced in April at a preparatory committee for the next Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review meeting.