Tokyo welcomes election of Japanese diplomat as IAEA chief

Japan lays hopes on the election of Yukiya Amano as the first Japanese national to head the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),RIA-Novosti quoted a senior government official as saying on Friday.

New director general of the IAEA, Japan's Yukiya Amano, is seen after his election in Vienna, Austria Thursday, July 2, 2009. (AFP Photo)

"We are glad that Amano received great international support and [Japan] managed to increase its significance in the world. It is very important that the citizen of the world's only nation that suffered atomic bombings has been elected [as IAEA chief]," Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said.

The 62-year-old Amano, who is currently Japan's ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna, gained two-thirds of the vote from the IAEA board of governors on Thursday.

Amano will take up the post on December 1, becoming the UN nuclear watchdog's fifth director general when he replaces Egypt's Mohamed ElBaradei, who has been in office since 1997.

"As a national of Japan, I intend to do my best to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons," Amano told reporters soon after he was elected.

The mayor of Hiroshima, which was struck by an atomic bomb dropped by the United States in 1945, said in an open letter to Amano that he hoped the new IAEA head would "apply his strengths to forging a concrete path toward the abolition of nuclear arms.''

The IAEA director general, who is elected for a term of four years, will be formally approved at the organization's general conference in Vienna in September.

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