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Official visit to Hiroshima Peace Park

February 24, 2016

Foreign ministers of G-7 nuclear powers lined up for Hiroshima peace park visit

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201602240066

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Foreign ministers of the three nuclear powers of the Group of Seven (G-7) leading industrialized economies are planning a visit in April to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, government sources said.

The proposed visit to the park, created in memory of the 1945 atomic bombing on the city, would be the first by the foreign ministers of the United States, Britain and France.

The main theme of the G-7 foreign ministers' meeting is expected to be nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.

“It is important to build momentum for moving toward a world without nuclear weapons,” said Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida of the planned visit.

Kishida is a Lower House member representing a constituency in Hiroshima Prefecture. He expressed strong interest in urging the G-7 foreign ministers to visit the Peace Memorial Park during an inspection there last year.

The ministers are scheduled to gather in Hiroshima from April 10 to 11 prior to the Ise-Shima summit that Japan will host in Shima, Mie Prefecture, from May 26 to 27.

Kishida hopes the visit will be achieved in a “natural way.” Japanese officials are concerned that if they push too hard, it could backfire at a time when divisions are deepening between some nuclear powers and countries without such weapons.

Although the government also called on the U.S. president or other leaders of the G-7 nations to visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki, it will be unlikely to happen this time.

“The political hurdle is too high to clear in the United States,” said a senior Foreign Ministry official.

Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion expressed his intention to tour the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum when he met with Kishida on Feb. 12.

Along with the museum, the park houses the Atomic Bomb Dome, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims.

(This article was written by Ryutaro Abe and Hajimu Takeda.)

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