Nuclear disarmament on Kishida’s mind for Hiroshima G7 summit next year

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida gives a speech during the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference at the United Nations in New York on Aug. 1.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has condemned Russia for blocking the adoption of the final document draft at the monthlong Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference at the United Nations, but has also stressed that all participating nations except Russia showed a certain degree of solidarity.

“Russia was the only country that blocked the adoption. This proved that many countries share the recognition that maintaining and strengthening the NPT serves the interests of the international community as a whole,” Kishida said Saturday, speaking virtually to reporters from his official residence in Tokyo as he recovers from being infected with the novel coronavirus.

“The blame for the failure to reach a consensus should be placed on Russia, not on how the NPT itself works,” Kishida said.

Kishida represents a constituency in Hiroshima, which was the first place to experience the horror of nuclear weapons when the United States dropped an atomic bomb over the city on Aug. 6, 1945, during World War II. Kishida has thus made nuclear disarmament his lifework.

On Aug. 1, Kishida became the first prime minister of Japan to attend the NPT review conference. In his speech on that first day of the conference, the prime minister announced the Hiroshima Action Plan to realize a nuclear-free world, calling for enhancing the transparency of nuclear forces.

As Russia has become increasingly isolated due to its invasion of Ukraine, it was always going to be difficult to extract concessions from Moscow. Under such circumstances, some within the Japanese government also saw the adoption of the draft final document as a rather high hurdle, according to a senior Foreign Ministry official.

As Japan holds the rotating presidency of the G7 next year, the summit is scheduled to be held in May in Hiroshima. The city will also host an international gathering in November with leaders from nuclear powers and non-nuclear states scheduled to attend. At this gathering, Kishida hopes to heighten momentum for nuclear disarmament in the international community in preparation for the G7 summit.

“We will persistently and steadily advance feasible initiatives step by step,” Kishida said. “As the only country to have experienced the horror of nuclear devastation in war, our nation has a historic sense of duty.”