The need to reference the dangers of nuclear weapons has intensified since Barack Obama became the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima in 2016. Vladimir Putin has refused to publicly rule out the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, while North Korea continues to develop more sophisticated missiles theoretically capable of delivering nuclear warheads to the US mainland, writes The Guardian.
Kishida’s decision to select Hiroshima – where he has a constituency – to host the summit comes with a heavy dose of symbolism, whose most striking physical presence, the A-bomb dome, will be within sight of the leaders when they lay flowers at a cenotaph to the 333,907 people whose deaths have been attributed to the A-bombing almost eight decades ago.
In the run-up to the summit, Kishida spoke of his desire for “a world without nuclear weapons”, although campaigners point to the failure by Japan – part of the US nuclear umbrella – to sign a 2021 UN treaty banning the possession and use of nuclear weapons.
“I believe the first step toward any nuclear disarmament effort is to provide a first-hand experience of the consequences of the atomic bombing and to firmly convey the reality,” Kishida said of the planned group visit to the peace museum.
Pressure is building for a reference to nuclear weapons, with the UN secretary general, António Guterres, this week calling on the G7 leaders to declare they will not use nuclear weapons “in any circumstances”.
“This is the moment in which we must insist on the need of revitalising disarmament, and especially nuclear disarmament,” Guterres told Japanese media ahead of his visit to Hiroshima.
Ageing hibakusha – survivors of the Hiroshima attack – say the summit is their final chance to make the case for disarmament directly to the US, France and Britain, the group’s three nuclear powers. Some are expected to meet the G7 leaders.
“I want to see the leaders commit to getting rid of nuclear weapons,” Shigeaki Mori, an 86-year-old survivor, said. “I also know it’s very hard to get them to go that far.”
Kishida wants to use the summit to press his guests to commit to transparency on stockpiles and arsenal reductions. But amid heightened tensions centring on Russia, North Korea and China – all nuclear powers – expectations for a breakthrough are low.