Prime Minister reveals in policy speech plan to form ‘international group of eminent persons conference’ toward nuclear-free world

by Seiji Shitakubo, Staff Writer

On January 17, at the 208th Ordinary Session of the Diet, Japan’s parliamentary body, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (representing Hiroshima Prefectural District No. 1) gave a policy speech at the plenary sessions of both houses for the first time since assuming the office of prime minister. In his address, he revealed his plan to organize an “international group of eminent persons conference toward a world free from nuclear weapons” based on the participation of policymakers from nations throughout the world, with the first meeting to be held in Hiroshima sometime this year. As for the rapid spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant, Mr. Kishida stressed his desire to do everything possible to bring the situation under control in timely fashion. He also made an appeal for major reforms toward the realization of a carbon-free society. Debate between the ruling and opposition parties ahead of this summer’s elections in the House of Councilors (upper house) will begin on January 19 with a session for questions in the House of Representatives (lower house).

The international eminent persons conference will be organized on the basis of the Group of Eminent Persons Conference, which was led by Mr. Kishida when he served as Japan’s minister of foreign affairs. His plan is to call on both current and former political leaders from different nations to participate in the conference and foster debate on nuclear disarmament among experts from both nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states. Citing the message in a guest book of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (located in the city’s Naka Ward) signed by Barack Obama, the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, Mr. Kishida said, “I will carry on his wishes and courageously pursue a world without nuclear weapons.”

He added that he would consider strengthening the nation’s defenses in a realistic way, including the capability to attack enemy bases, and expressed his anticipation for active debate in the Diet regarding the issue of amending the constitution in this regard. He also apologized for falsification of the report on the current survey on orders received for construction by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

(Originally published on January 18, 2022)