Kishida, Obama call for nuke-free world

Kyodo News

Posted at Dec 10 2022 04:25 PM

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and former US President Barack Obama on Saturday called for a world without nuclear weapons amid Russian threats to use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine and North Korea's pursuit of a nuclear arsenal.

They made the call in separate messages sent to the inaugural meeting of a nuclear disarmament forum comprising former political leaders and scholars in Hiroshima, a western Japan city that was devastated by a US atomic bomb dropped in the closing stages of World War II.

"We owe it to our children to pursue a world without nuclear weapons," Obama said in a video message to the two-day meeting through Sunday.

Looking back to when he became the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima in May 2016, Obama said his trip then "strengthened my own resolve to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons worldwide, and it is this same commitment that brings you all here today."

Kishida said in his message that he hopes the two days of talks will make "a significant step" toward the abolition of nuclear weapons.

"The actual barrier to nuclear disarmament remains high, or has become higher," Kishida said.

The world is facing the "biggest threat of nuclear weapon use since the Cold War," he said, referring to the Ukraine crisis and growing fears that North Korea may carry out its seventh nuclear test and first since September 2017.

The International Group of Eminent Persons for a World without Nuclear Weapons was set up under the initiative of Kishida, a lawmaker from a constituency in Hiroshima who has pressed his vision of a nuclear-free world since taking office in October last year.

Japan will host a summit of the Group of Seven industrialized nations in Hiroshima in May.

The eminent persons meeting involves 15 members and is led by Takashi Shiraishi, chancellor of the Prefectural University of Kumamoto in southwestern Japan and an expert in international politics.

Among the 15 members, 12 are from 11 foreign nations -- the nuclear powers of the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and India, and the non-nuclear states of Germany, Argentina, Jordan, Indonesia and New Zealand.