After a ship loaded with weapons-grade plutonium left Japan for the US on Tuesday, China has asked Japan to take measures to respond to international concerns about its excessive stockpile of nuclear materials.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was replying to questions from journalists on the Japanese shipment of 331 kilograms of plutonium, enough to make about 50 nuclear weapons.
A ship believed to be carrying plutonium and other nuclear materials left a port in Tokaimura, northeast of Tokyo, on Tuesday, Japan’s Kyodo reported. The shipment accounts for a tiny portion of the nearly 50 tonnes of plutonium Japan holds.
“Japan should deliver its commitment at an early date, as it promised to return the sensitive nuclear materials at the Nuclear Security Summit in 2014,” Hua said at a regular news briefing.
Environmental group Greenpeace said this is the largest such shipment of the highly dangerous material since 1992.
Two British ships arrived in eastern Japan on Monday to transport the plutonium.
Japan has a massive stockpile of separated plutonium and highly-enriched uranium (HEU), which has drawn international concerns, Chinese spokesperson Hua said, calling for “necessary steps” from Japan to address such concerns.
Hua criticized Yusuke Yokobatake, director-general of Japanese Cabinet Legislation Bureau, who allegedly said last Friday that Japan’ s Constitution does not necessarily ban the use of nuclear weapons.
“Pro-nuclear weapon remarks from a cabinet official will further deepen world skepticism. We demand the Japanese government explain its stance,” Hua said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga flatly denied the possibility of Japan using a nuclear weapon at a press conference last Friday.
“The government does not think of such a thing at all,” Suga has asserted.
Japan has 47.8 tonnes of highly sensitive separated plutonium and 1.2 tonnes of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) for research reactors, according to a joint study released in 2015 by China Arms Control and Disarmament Association and the China Institute of Nuclear Information and Economics.
Japan pledged in a parliamentary resolution adopted in 1971, the Three Non-Nuclear Principles, that the country shall not produce, possess or allow the entry into its territory of nuclear weapons.
On Tuesday, the 331 kg (730 lb) of plutonium was taken from a nuclear research center in the port town of Tokaimura, and left on a British ship, the Pacific Egret, for transport to the US Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina, Greenpeace said.
TBP and Agencies