First meeting of International Group of Eminent Persons conference closed with Mr. Kishida’s words: “Deepen discussions regarding abolition of nuclear weapons for G7 summit meeting”

by Yohei Yamamoto, Staff Writer

On December 11, after a two-day meeting held at the Grand Prince Hotel Hiroshima, the first meeting of the International Group of Eminent Persons for a World without Nuclear Weapons, where experts and diplomats from Japan and abroad are exploring a path toward the abolition of nuclear weapons, concluded its first meeting. At the closing session, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated, “I would like to deepen discussions to ensure a strong message will be delivered to a world free of nuclear weapons,” in looking toward the summit meeting of the G7 (Group of Seven Industrialized nations) to be held in Hiroshima City in May 2023. The group’s second meeting will be held next spring before the Hiroshima Summit.

After the closing session, Mr. Kishida inspected the guest rooms and the poolside, which commands a view of the Seto Inland Sea, and is also a candidate for the main venue of the Hiroshima Summit. In an interview with news media, he said, “I will look back on the minutes of meeting, comprehend what was discussed here, and link them to the Hiroshima Summit.”

On December 11, thirteen representatives attended the meeting from both nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states, including one representative who was absent on the first day of the meeting. They exchanged opinions behind closed doors about issues to be assigned higher priority toward abolition of nuclear weapons. The group plans to hold a series of discussions in preparation for the next Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference scheduled for 2026, and compile an outcome document by 2025.

Takashi Shiraishi, chair of the conference and the president of the Prefectural University of Kumamoto, explained at a press conference after the closing session, “We reached a common understanding that dissatisfaction with the NPT was growing and had a candid discussion about how to deal with it.” The group also indicated that they will have a second meeting in person and online in the spring of 2023 and a third meeting as early as autumn.

Angela Kane from Germany, Undersecretary-General of the United Nations and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, who also attended the news conference, stated, “I am deeply moved with each visit to Hiroshima.” Rose Gottemoeller, former U.S. Undersecretary of States said, “I was deeply impressed by the A-bomb survivor’s testimony in English.”

On the morning of December 11, prior to the discussion, the 13 representatives visited Peace Memorial Park located in the city’s Naka Ward. Mr. Shiraishi and Ms. Kane offered flowers at the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims and observed a moment of silence. They also visited the Peace Memorial Museum with their eyes focused intently on“White Panorama,” an exhibit using computer graphics that shows how the landscape of Hiroshima was instantly destroyed.

The international group of eminent persons conference was developed from the Group of Eminent Persons Conference composed of experts from Japan and abroad, which Mr. Kishida proposed when he was foreign minister. At its first meeting, six guests, including Mr. Barack Obama, the first incumbent president to visit Hiroshima in 2016, sent video messages.

(Originally published on December 13, 2022)