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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Japan Tells France to Stop Tests

TOKYO -- Japan lodged its strongest protest to date Thursday against France's plans to resume nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific, calling the French ambassador directly to the prime minister's office.

The significance of Japan's protest lay more in its style than content. A government protest usually takes the form of an ambassador being summoned to the Foreign Ministry and met by a junior bureaucrat.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Kozo Igarashi called in French Ambassador Jean-Bernard Ouvrieu and handed him a formal government demand to halt the testing.

Paris reacted quickly, warning Japan that their excellent relations could be jeopardized if Tokyo were to encourage a boycott of French goods over the issue.

A foreign ministry spokesman said the Japanese ambassador to France had been summoned Wednesday and told that French President Jacques Chirac's decision to conduct eight underground tests in the South Pacific from September was irrevocable.

French-Japanese "relations are excellent. We hope these excellent relations will not be impaired by inappropriate initiatives," he said.

Igarashi told a news conference after meeting the French ambassador to Tokyo that Japan would use the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum and every possible opportunity to press France to reconsider its decision.

"This decision is extremely regrettable and will cause the world to lose trust in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty system. Like many countries, Japan hopes France, as a matter of its own honor, will retract the decision," he said.