“Hiroshima Round Table” discusses nuclear abolition with international participants

Aug. 2, 2013

by Kenichiro Nozaki, Staff Writer

On July 29, the “Hiroshima Round Table,” a meeting to explore a path toward eliminating nuclear arms in East Asia, attended by researchers and former foreign ministers from five nations in the Asia-Pacific region, including nuclear weapon states, opened at a hotel in Hiroshima. The roundtable meeting is the first step by Hiroshima Prefecture in implementing its “Hiroshima for Global Peace” plan. The participants exchanged views on the subject of nuclear disarmament and the denuclearization of East Asia, where tensions have been running high. The discussion will continue on July 30.

Sixteen participants, including former foreign ministers and university professors from Japan, the United States, China, South Korea, and Australia, are taking part in the meeting. Among these participants are Shen Dingli, a professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, and Li Bin, a professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, experts on nuclear disarmament from China; Han Sung-Joo, a former foreign minister from South Korea; and a group of eight from Japan, including former foreign minister Yoriko Kawaguchi.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, elected from district one in Hiroshima, spoke at the outset of the meeting and stressed, “As the only A-bombed nation, Japan has a mission to convey the horrific consequences of the use of nuclear weapons to the world and to the next generation.” To help realize a world without nuclear weapons, he expressed his determination to press the international community to reduce the number of nuclear weapons, the role that nuclear weapons play in the world, and the ambition to develop and possess them.

Following Mr. Kishida, Yohei Kono, a former speaker of Japan’s House of Representatives, made a keynote speech in which he urged Japan to make efforts in this area so that the nation would no longer need the U.S. nuclear umbrella. He also called on Japan to deepen its dialogue on the subject of national security with its neighbors, such as China and South Korea.

The roundtable meeting is an important component of the “Hiroshima for Global Peace” plan that was crafted by Hiroshima Prefecture in 2011 to address its role as an A-bombed site. Except for the start of the meeting, discussions took place behind closed doors. On the evening of July 30, Ms. Kawaguchi and other participants will hold a press conference to report on the results of the gathering.

(Originally published on July 30, 2013)