Hiroshima Summit, May 19-21: Interview with Ian McKay, Ambassador of Canada to Japan

Nuclear deterrence is number one priority

by Michiko Tanaka, Senior Staff Writer

Ian McKay, Ambassador of Canada to Japan, agreed to an interview with the Chugoku Shimbun prior to the meeting of The Group of Seven industrialized nations (G7 summit) that is scheduled in Hiroshima in May. Amid the chaos of international situations, he stressed the significance of holding the summit in the A-bombed city saying that it is “maybe the most important G7 gathering ever.”

What do you feel about holding the G7 summit in Hiroshima?
I think it is a wise decision to choose Hiroshima as the location. I have been to Hiroshima many times. My first visit to the city was when I was 18 years old, during my short-term study abroad program at a high school in Shimonoseki-City. I also attended the Peace Memorial Ceremony in 2021. Hiroshima has a profound impact on human beings. It continues to send out important messages since the end of the war. On May 19 to 21, it will provide the people of the world a stark reminder of the outcome of the use of nuclear weapons.

We are faced with serious challenges. Japan is vulnerable to North Korea’s ballistic missile launches and China’s maritime advances. In Europe, Vladimir Putin started a reckless, unacceptable war, intensifying the threat of use of nuclear weapons. G7 nations need to speak with one voice now, making it clear to the world they will not tolerate these type of illegal activities and will act in a decisive manner.

People of Hiroshima want the leaders to visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and talk with A-bomb survivors.
I think it is unimaginable that they won’t visit the museum. I think it will happen on the first day. I personally would like them to meet A-bomb survivors.

Setsuko Thurlow, an A-bomb survivor who now lives in Canada, has been asking the Canadian government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Do you approve of a “world without nuclear weapons?”
Canada has signed the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) with a long-term objective to realize a world free of nuclear weapons. I understand that Ms. Thurlow has earned people’s respect as an advocate for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Having said that, it is not practical to consider a “world free of nuclear weapons” as long as the weapon is in the hands of dangerous people like those in Russia and North Korea. As a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), nuclear deterrence is the number one priority for Canada.

Continued dialogue is the only way to reach the goal of abolishing nuclear weapons. That is why the Hiroshima Summit is important. This is an opportunity, when the world’s media focus is on them, for A-bomb survivors to talk about their experience and feelings of the horrible tragedy that happened. Hopefully, this will have some influence on future decisions that new generation leaders might make.

What else do you think will be on the agenda?
Problems of climate change, regional economic security and cooperation toward reconstructing supply chains will also be discussed at the meeting. It is also a big challenge for the G7 to get emerging countries and developing countries involved to push back against military incursions and other illegal activities.

We are hoping to introduce Canada’s feminist foreign policy. Half of our cabinet ministers are women. Last November, we appointed Yuko Ishida, President of Hiroshima University of Economics and one of the women leaders in the community, as a new honorary consul in Hiroshima. We find it to be a very powerful policy, bringing about positive effects on the social and economic makeup of our country. We would like to share our experience with many countries.

Ian McKay
Born in British Columbia, Canada, in 1963. Mr. McKay started to work for a foreign financial and securities company in 1987, and resided in Japan for over 10 years. Since 2001, he held various senior positions in the Government of Canada and the Liberal Party of Canada. In August 2021, he assumed his current position as Ambassador of Canada to Japan.

(Originally published on March 5, 2023)