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Kishida mulls video address for U.N. nonproliferation talks

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday he is considering making a video address to the U.N. nuclear nonproliferation meeting in January amid a spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in the United States.

Kishida, a House of Representatives member from the atomic-bombed city of Hiroshima, had earlier indicated that he hoped to attend the NPT Review Conference in person.

The conference, which starts Jan. 4 in New York, is for U.N. members to review the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

“Other countries are starting to switch to making video addresses,” Kishida told reporters, adding, “I am thinking of how I can participate in the event, including making a video address.

“I would like to contribute to the conference as I have strong feelings on it,” Kishida said, while underscoring his intent to continue efforts toward the adoption of a final document.

Disagreements among participating countries meant that the last session failed to adopt such a document.

It is rare for a national leader to address the review conference, even by video, because leaders usually do not take part in the event. Japan usually sends a foreign minister or a senior vice foreign minister to the U.N. conference, held every five years to assess the progress on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.

Kishida, who last attended the event as foreign minister in 2015, is now expected to send Minoru Terada, his special adviser on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.

The gathering was initially due to take place in 2020 but was postponed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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