Nuclear tests anger Diet

Two days before the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan's floundering politicians passed a strongly worded resolution condemning the renewed nuclear testing programmes undertaken by France and China, writes Richard Lloyd Parry.

"This House opposes nuclear testing by any country in view of the fact that ours is the only nation to experience an atomic bombing, with the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki," declared the motion, passed yesterday in an extraordinary session of the Diet.

"The fact that France has decided to resume nuclear testing, following China's underground nuclear tests, is an act that destroys the global environment ... and threatens the existence of humanity, regardless of the reasons given and whatever conditions are placed on carrying it out," it added.

The coalition government of the Prime Minister, Tomiichi Murayama, which suffered severe losses in last month's upper house elections, also announced an imminent cabinet reshuffle and measures to increase public spending.

In Hiroshima, the mayor, Tadashi Hiraoka, also called on President Jacques Chirac of France to cancel the tests, planned for the autumn in the South Pacific.

But the Foreign Minister, Yohei Kono, indicated that the government would not give its sanction to a boycott of French goods, called for by consumer groups.

The timing of the resolution may have as much to do with the shaky coalition's craving for domestic approval in advance of the Hiroshima commemorations as with high principles.

The government made a relatively muted protest immediately after a Chinese test on 15 May, and an earlier Diet resolution that apologised for Japanese wartime aggression in Asia, was agreed only with great difficulty, and at the last minute.

The resolution appears to have had no effect on a contract with a government- owned French company to recycle the nuclear waste produced by Japanese power companies.

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