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Beatrice Fihn, executive director of Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), attends a news conference in Tokyo, Japan January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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TOKYO (Reuters) - The leader of the campaign group that won last year's Nobel Peace Prize on Tuesday urged Japan to join a United Nations treaty to prohibit nuclear arms, saying a nuclear deterrence strategy would not bring about peace.

The comment by Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), comes as Japan increasingly counts on the U.S. nuclear umbrella while North Korea continues its missile and nuclear development in defiance of international pressure.

"If nuclear deterrence creates peace, then, we should welcome North Korean nuclear weapons. Then, it should be peace, right now, right? But that's not the case," Fihn told a news conference in Tokyo.

"Instead, we have increased risk. So I think we see clearly evidence that nuclear weapons fuel crisis."

ICAN is a coalition of non-governmental groups that campaigned for a U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted by 122 nations last July.

Japan, the only country to suffer nuclear bombings, did not take part in U.N. negotiations on the treaty, saying such talks without nuclear armed countries participating would not contribute to bringing about a world without nuclear weapons. Tokyo has not signed the treaty either.

"We need action and leadership from Japan...Japan can be moral authority on nuclear disarmament, and that can begin with Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe joining the treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons," she said.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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Reuters