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Not just a ceremony?

April 12, 2016

EDITORIAL: G-7 Hiroshima talks should reignite drive to eliminate nukes




The top diplomats of the Group of Seven leading powers should build on what they saw and heard in Hiroshima to help accelerate the world’s march toward a future without nuclear arms.

During their April 10-11 trips to Hiroshima, the foreign ministers of the seven countries, including the United States, which dropped an atomic bomb on the city in 1945, visited the Peace Memorial Park and laid wreaths at the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims on April 11.

In addition to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the officials made unscheduled visits to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, or the Atomic Bomb Dome, a famous visual symbol of the nuclear devastation.

During a news conference after his visit to the peace park, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offered no apology or condolences to the victims and survivors of the atomic bombing. But he delivered a message to the world in the museum’s guest book: “Everyone in the world should see and feel the power of this memorial.”

Speaking to reporters, Kerry said, “So I hope one day the president of the United States will be among the everyone who is able to come here.”

Sunao Tsuboi, a 90-year-old atomic bomb survivor, expressed his appreciation about Kerry’s visit to Hiroshima. “I’m not fully satisfied, but things have come a long way to reach this point.”

Many people probably felt that it was an important moment when the country that dropped the bomb ruminated on the terrible evils of such weapons of mass destruction.

Kerry also stressed his commitment to working to realize a world without nuclear weapons. That’s exactly the biggest wish among people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and atomic bomb survivors.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s term will expire in January. If he sends out a message calling for the elimination of nuclear arms in an atomic-bombed city, its impact will be immeasurable. We urge Obama to make the political decision to visit Hiroshima for the future of the world.

The gathering of the G-7 foreign ministers in Hiroshima should not be allowed to end up a mere ceremony.

The G-7 nations have to follow up their foreign ministers’ meeting in the city with specific actions to promote nuclear disarmament.

Unfortunately, the Hiroshima Declaration, a statement issued by the G-7 foreign ministers intended to serve as a guiding document for international efforts to push toward a nuclear-free future, lacked the impact needed to revitalize the cause.

The document referred to the devastation and suffering experienced by people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But it did not mention the “inhumane aspects of nuclear weapons,” a concept that has gained traction in international discussions on nuclear disarmament in recent years.

The statement also said further progress toward a world without nuclear weapons can only be achieved through a “realistic and incremental approach.”

This phrase indicates that the leading powers regard the elimination of nuclear arms as a goal for the distant future.

This is an effective rebuttal to the argument made by many non-nuclear countries that nuclear weapons are inhumane and should be banned under an international treaty.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who put together the views of the seven countries into the declaration, said the document will help re-energize the movement toward a world without nuclear weapons.

But the declaration has raised concerns about the possible widening of the rift between the nuclear powers and the rest of the world.

As the only country to suffer nuclear attacks, Japan should do more to serve as an effective intermediary between the two sides.

Russia, which has antagonized the G-7 over the conflict in Ukraine, is showing signs of becoming even more dependent on nuclear arms. China is building up its nuclear arsenal, while North Korea continues conducting nuclear tests.

There are no prospects for swift progress toward a world without nuclear weapons.

After the landmark meeting in Hiroshima, the G-7 countries should tackle with renewed vigor the formidable challenge of figuring out an effective way to jump-start stalled nuclear disarmament efforts.


How can G-7 foreign ministers' visit to Hiroshima lead to nuclear disarmament?



April 11, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)



The Group of Seven (G-7) foreign ministers visited the cenotaph for the atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima during their conference in the city on April 11 -- 71 years after the attack. While their visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park should be appreciated as the first step toward a world without nuclear weapons, how the G-7 countries will use the visit to achieve this goal has been called into question.

U.S. President Barack Obama called for a world without nuclear weapons in 2009, and the United States and Russia signed a nuclear arms reduction treaty the following year to limit the number of strategic nuclear warheads that they can deploy. These moves gave the international community the impression that efforts toward nuclear disarmament had gained momentum.

However, the security environment is getting increasingly serious as Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in June 2015 that his country would enhance its nuclear capability following the Ukraine crisis and North Korea conducted a nuclear test this past January.

At the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in April and May last year, the final draft of a joint statement was not adopted because of a conflict over the Middle East issue, and non-nuclear powers expressed displeasure at the failure. Japan, which suffered the atomic bombing but is also under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, has been in a dilemma between pro-nuclear countries and those opposed to nuclear power.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who has been elected from this atomic-bombed city as a legislator and chairs the G-7 foreign ministerial conference, was particularly enthusiastic about realizing the G-7 foreign ministers' visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. "We'd like to increase momentum within the G-7, which includes both nuclear and non-nuclear powers, for efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons."

Therefore, the historic visit by the G-7 foreign ministers to the memorial park should not end up being just a ceremony.




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