Commentary: Decision to select Hiroshima as host of next G7 summit will serve as good opportunity to move toward nuclear abolition and peace

by Michiko Tanaka, Senior Staff Writer

In what will be a historic day, Hiroshima is to serve as host of the summit meeting of the G7 (attended by the Group of Seven industrialized nations) for the first time next year in 2023. The meeting will gather leaders of three nuclear nations—the United States, the country that dropped the atomic bombs; the United Kingdom; and France. Across the world, however, numerous countries seem increasingly reliant on nuclear weapons which, if used for the third time in history on other human beings, would result in unimaginable consequences. It is hoped the leaders take that idea to heart while in the A-bombed city of Hiroshima and make the occasion a turning point for progress toward the elimination of nuclear weapons and the promotion of world peace.

Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida—who serves as a member of the House of Representatives (lower house of the Diet) representing Hiroshima Prefecture’s District No. 1, a district into which is deeply etched the tragedy 77 years ago of August 6, 1945—has called on leaders from other nations to visit Hiroshima since his time as Japan’s minister of foreign affairs. Now, a time in which Russia threatens the use of nuclear weapons as it once did during the Cold War era, the broader international community will likely recognize the significance of inviting leaders from key nations to Hiroshima for the summit.

From this point on, Mr. Kishida will be watched for how he can lead the world to a tangible result from in the G7 Hiroshima Summit in order to ensure that his motto of “a world without nuclear weapons” is not seen merely as window dressing.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine provoked further expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the nuclear alliance among European and North American nations, resulting in escalation of tensions across the world. In northeast Asia, China and North Korea have not halted the buildup of their military forces. In Japan, some politicians continue to insist on a debate about whether or not Japan should jointly manage U.S. nuclear weapons on its own soil.

To alter the course of military expansion back in the direction of disarmament, reliance on public appeals from the A-bomb city is insufficient. Japan’s national government needs to take action to faithfully respond to such wishes. If the government were to attend the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in June as an observer and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in August and describe the inhumanity of nuclear weapons from the viewpoint of the A-bombed nation at both meetings with consistency, it would present a good opportunity to foster international public opinion favoring the elimination of nuclear weapons in preparation for the G7 summit meeting.

As the global situation descends further into a situation akin to a new Cold War, neighboring nations in Asia are keeping an eye out for how Japan behaves at the G7 summit. The skills of Prime Minister Kishida, who has advocated cooperation rather than division, are sure to be tested.

(Originally published on May 24, 2022)