Japan urges China to stop building nuclear arsenal

Japan urges China to stop building nuclear arsenal

The rare demand came in talks between Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi at regional talks in South Korea, according to Kazuo Kodama, the press secretary of Japan's foreign ministry.

The Japanese minister said China was the only one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- to be accumulating nuclear weapons.

"Amongst the P5, it is only China which is increasing its nuclear arsenal," Okada told Yang during the talks on Saturday, according to Kodama.

"Therefore I would like to request the Chinese government either to reduce the number of nuclear arsenals or at least commit ourselves not to increase its nuclear arsenals from the current level," he quoted Okada as saying.

Yang, in response, said China was committed to global nuclear disarmament and not using atomic bombs against non-nuclear weapons states.

Seoul's Yonhap news agency, citing an unnamed diplomatic source, said Chinese officials felt "uncomfortable" with Okada's demand and even considered boycotting part of the programme at the talks in the southern city of Gyeongju.

Chinese officials were not immediately available for comment.

Okada and Yang arrived in Gyeongju yesterday to attend the two-day foreign ministerial meeting with South Korean host Yu Myung-Hwan.

The three foreign ministers discussed issues including the growing tension over the sinking of a South Korean warship near the border with North Korea on March 26, which has led to suspicion falling on the communist North.