Responses from Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, to questions from Chugoku Shimbun in written interview

Question) How many times have you visited Hiroshima? If you’ve visited Hiroshima before, when did you visit the city? What were your impressions of the city?
Answer) I had the pleasure of visiting this wonderful city almost exactly two years ago. During my first trip to Japan after assuming office, I attended the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative Ministerial Meeting here in Hiroshima in April 2014. This issue is very important to me. I was deeply moved by my stay in the city, by my visit to the memorial for the victims of the nuclear bomb and the Peace Memorial Museum, and by my conversation with a survivor. They enjoin us to continue to work with the greatest possible resolve towards Global Zero.

Q) What do you hope to experience in Hiroshima this time?
A) I am looking forward to visiting Hiroshima again for the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Again, nuclear disarmament will be a key issue. For Hiroshima and the history of the city are a stark reminder that we must work on a peaceful world with no nuclear weapons. I am confident that the spirit of the city, along with our Japanese hosts’ warm hospitality and the breathtaking scenery surrounding Hiroshima will contribute to the success of the talks.

Q) What hopes do you have for the upcoming foreign Ministers’ meeting? What would you like to discuss to advance peace in the world? What suggestions would you like to make to overcome obstacles toward realizing this peace?
A) In addition to nuclear disarmament, a topic so closely associated with this place, we will be looking at a whole range of current international issues, including the war in Syria, the conflict in Ukraine and the fight against terrorism. I am particularly pleased that Japan remains committed to one of the priorities of the German G7 presidency – maritime security. I hope that this meeting with my G7 colleagues will provide significant impetus on all these subjects. This forum, comprising seven countries with such a wide range of views, is particularly suited to developing viable, realistic approaches to solutions. A look at the ongoing crises makes it clear that we can find practicable approaches only if we trust in the power of diplomacy and in the power of dialogue.

Q) Do you support “a world without nuclear weapons”? What should be done to realize such a world?
A) Germany is committed to the goal of a world free from nuclear weapons. At the same time, we all realise that we have a very long way to go. The latest nuclear test in North Korea, for example, is a reminder that, on the way to Global Zero, we have to deal with regional conflicts with a nuclear dimension as well.

In my view, it is regrettable that President Obama’s offer from the summer of 2013 to embark on a new round of nuclear disarmament talks with Russia has not yet been taken up. It is clear that Global Zero is a task spanning generations which can only be achieved with many small and large steps. But there is no alternative path.

Q) Do you have any suggestions as to what the youth of Hiroshima can do to promote peace?
A) An open exchange between civil societies is one good way of creating trust, swapping experiences and developing ideas as to how we can work together for disarmament and peace. The dialogue among young people from many different countries, for example, could be one element of such an exchange. It would have to look also at difficult issues such as reckoning with the past and could involve people from neighbouring states such as China and Korea in the first instance, but also from other parts of the world. I also encourage young people in Hiroshima to seek dialogue with politicians and decision-makers.