Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono listens to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during their meeting at the Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound in Beijing, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018. Photo: Reuters/Andy Wong

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono has reportedly welcomed Washington’s release of a new “Nuclear posture Review” on Friday that outlines plans to upgrade America’s nuclear arsenal.

The Mainichi Shimbun quoted Taro as saying the new strategy clarified Washington’s commitment to providing extended deterrence to allies like Japan and that Tokyo “highly appreciates” the NPR, which underscores such a stance.

Taro also mentioned nuclear disarmament, saying that Japan will cooperate closely with the US to “promote realistic and tangible nuclear disarmament” while responding to real security threats, such as the one posed by North Korea’s nuclear program.

Critics, on the other hand, said Kono’s words highlighted Japan’s dependence on the US nuclear umbrella. They also said the Abe government’s support for the US strategy was at odds with Japan’s past efforts in favor of abolishing nuclear weapons as the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack.

Akira Koike, head of the secretariat of the opposition Japanese Communist Party, characterized the US NPR as a “foolish policy.”

“The change in direction of the US to make the use of nuclear weapons easier goes against the emotions of A-bomb survivors and the global trend toward nuclear abolition,” he said. Koike also slammed Foreign Minister Kono’s statement, saying that it was “outrageous” and called the Japanese government’s response to the NPR “absurd.”

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