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G7 goal of a nuclear weapons-free world increasingly challenged

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and US President Joe Biden hold a moment of silence in front of the cennotaf to mourn the victims of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima in May 2023.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) – The road to a nuclear weapons-free world is becoming increasingly rocky a year after leaders of the Group of Seven major democracies adopted a landmark document on nuclear disarmament.

On May 19, 2023, the first day of the three-day G7 summit in the city of Hiroshima in western Japan, the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States plus the European Union Adopted the Hiroshima Vision on nuclear disarmament, affirming their “commitment to the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who hosted the summit, continues to call for the vision to be realized. But momentum for nuclear disarmament has not increased, in part because Russia has threatened to use nuclear weapons in its military aggression against Ukraine.

The Hiroshima Vision was announced after G7 leaders, including the US, decided President Joe Biden visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on the first day of the summit. Hiroshima, Kishida’s political home, was destroyed by an American atomic bomb on August 6, 1945, in the final days of World War II. Kishida says achieving a world without nuclear weapons is his life’s work.

The Hiroshima Vision also said: “We reiterate our position that threats by Russia to use nuclear weapons, let alone any use of nuclear weapons by Russia, in the context of its aggression against Ukraine are impermissible.”

In the document, the leaders also criticized China’s buildup of a nuclear arsenal and North Korea’s nuclear development program.

Kishida and Biden reaffirmed in a joint statement adopted during their meeting at the White House in April this year, during Kishida’s state visit to the United States, that the Hiroshima Vision is a welcome contribution to a world free of nuclear weapons.

However, the situation is becoming increasingly difficult.

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered exercises for tactical nuclear weapons that could reach Europe. Belarus, a Russian neighbor, is expected to participate in the exercises.

The move “goes against efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons,” a Japanese government official said.

Putin also held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday, demonstrating the strong ties between their countries. Moreover, Russia is working to deepen its military cooperation with North Korea, a move that is further deteriorating the security situation in East Asia.

In November last year, an Israeli minister, who is stepping up its attacks on Hamas in the Palestinian territory of Gaza, said that using a nuclear bomb is an option.

Tensions in the Middle East increased further as Israel, a de facto nuclear power, also battles Iran, which continues nuclear development.

This month, the United States conducted its first subcritical nuclear test in about two years and eight months.

Kishida plans to call again for nuclear disarmament at the G-7 summit in Italy next month.

Ahead of this, the Japanese government will hold the fourth meeting of the International Group of Eminent Persons for a World Without Nuclear Weapons in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We will continue and strengthen realistic and practical efforts, using the Hiroshima Vision as a powerful springboard,” Japanese Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi told a news conference on Friday.

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