Responses from Jean-Marc Ayrault, France Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, 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) This is my first visit to Hiroshima although I have had several occasions to visit Japan. As the former Mayor of Nantes, I had the pleasure to go to Niigata which is a sister city of Nantes. I am therefore grateful to Minister Kishida for deciding to host the G7 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Hiroshima, which gives me the opportunity to discover his hometown.

Q) What do you hope to experience in Hiroshima this time?
A) Hiroshima is a symbol for the tragedy of war. It is a reminder for the international community of the importance to join hands to preserve world peace. I am confident that this spirit will inspire our talks between the G7 Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

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) Terrorism is one of the major challenges to peace in today’s world. We need to address its root causes, including the regional crisis which fuel instability. We also need to tackle the financing of terrorism, strengthen international cooperation between police, customs and judicial services, reinforce air security and fight against illicit trade in cultural goods. We expect the G7 Foreing Ministers’ meeting in Hiroshima to send a strong signal in that direction.

Disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation will also be high on the agenda. In the context of North Korea’s repeated provocations which threaten the international non proliferation and arms control regimes, a key objective is to ensure the full implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolution 2270 to reinforce sanctions against the North Korean regime. The implementation of the Paris COP 21 agreement is also a priority, as climate change represents one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. The G7 Foreign Minister’s meeting will provide the opportunity to discuss the way forward to materialize this historical agreement.

Q) Do you support “a world without nuclear weapons”? What should be done to realize such a world?
A) France is committed to creating the conditions of “a world without nuclear weapons” based on a progressive and reasonable approach to disarmament in a way that promotes international security and stability. The entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which celebrates the 20th anniversary of its signature this year, and the launch of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) for which France has presented an ambitious, realistic and verifiable draft, constitute the next logical steps in disarmament. We also expect the United States and Russia, which possess by far the biggest nuclear weapons stockpiles to continue their bilateral efforts to reduce these stockpiles.

Q) Do you have any suggestions as to what the youth of Hiroshima can do to promote peace?
A) Young generations are our future. International conflicts and disputes, including on historical issues, must be solved through dialogue. This is what Europe has accomplished since 1945, including the reconciliation between France and Germany. Youth exchanges have played a key role in this process. I am convinced that the youth of Hiroshima can contribute in the same way, foster better understanding between Japan and its neighbors and promote peace and stability in the world.