As the G7 leaders convene in Hiroshima this week, discussions surrounding the war in Ukraine and Chinese aggression toward Taiwan are expected to dominate the agenda. However, host Fumio Kishida aims to carve out time to push for a pledge on nuclear weapons, highlighting the significance of this issue in the first city ever targeted by an atomic bomb.
The leaders began arriving on Thursday, with a planned visit to the city’s Peace Memorial Museum scheduled for Saturday. The museum showcases exhibits that vividly portray the immense tragedy that unfolded after the United States dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The bomb claimed the lives of 140,000 people by the end of that year.
Kishida, along with Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak, and other G7 leaders will witness a simulation illustrating the devastating aftermath of a bombing. Items such as ripped school uniforms, charred contents of a lunchbox, and a tricycle belonging to a three-year-old victim will serve as poignant reminders of the human cost. The urgency to address the dangers of nuclear weapons has grown since 2016 when Barack Obama became the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima.
Kishida’s decision to select Hiroshima as the summit’s venue holds immense symbolism. The A-bomb dome, a striking reminder of the atomic bombing, will be within sight as leaders lay flowers at a cenotaph honoring the 333,907 victims of the bombing almost eight decades ago.
In the lead-up to the summit, Kishida expressed his desire for “a world without nuclear weapons.” However, critics highlight Japan’s failure to sign the 2021 UN treaty banning the possession and use of nuclear weapons, considering its reliance on the US nuclear umbrella.
The G7 summit is expected to discuss nuclear disarmament, but there is low expectations for a breakthrough. Officials from the US have indicated that they will not prioritize an independent agenda on nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, German government sources have downplayed the significance of nuclear disarmament.
The G7 leaders are also expected to address China’s growing military and economic influence. However, there is unlikely to be a unified stance, as the group is not positioned as an “anti-Chinese G7,” according to an adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron. They face the challenge of managing Beijing’s escalating threats against Taiwan and addressing economic and supply chain dependencies on China while maintaining a balanced approach that doesn’t alienate an important trading partner.
The G7 discussions in Hiroshima encompass not only the pressing issue of nuclear weapons but also broader global challenges. Economic security, sensitive technologies, and the dynamics of great power competition between the United States, Russia, and China are all crucial elements that leaders must navigate during this pivotal summit.