The Group of Seven (G-7) foreign ministers visited the cenotaph for the atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima during their conference in the city on April 11 -- 71 years after the attack. While their visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park should be appreciated as the first step toward a world without nuclear weapons, how the G-7 countries will use the visit to achieve this goal has been called into question.
U.S. President Barack Obama called for a world without nuclear weapons in 2009, and the United States and Russia signed a nuclear arms reduction treaty the following year to limit the number of strategic nuclear warheads that they can deploy. These moves gave the international community the impression that efforts toward nuclear disarmament had gained momentum.
However, the security environment is getting increasingly serious as Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in June 2015 that his country would enhance its nuclear capability following the Ukraine crisis and North Korea conducted a nuclear test this past January.
At the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in April and May last year, the final draft of a joint statement was not adopted because of a conflict over the Middle East issue, and non-nuclear powers expressed displeasure at the failure. Japan, which suffered the atomic bombing but is also under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, has been in a dilemma between pro-nuclear countries and those opposed to nuclear power.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who has been elected from this atomic-bombed city as a legislator and chairs the G-7 foreign ministerial conference, was particularly enthusiastic about realizing the G-7 foreign ministers' visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. "We'd like to increase momentum within the G-7, which includes both nuclear and non-nuclear powers, for efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons."
Therefore, the historic visit by the G-7 foreign ministers to the memorial park should not end up being just a ceremony.