Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged Saturday to pitch his vision of a world without nuclear weapons at the Group of Seven summit to be held in Hiroshima in May, amid fears that Russia might use an atomic device against Ukraine in the ongoing war.
Kishida's remarks came after he held talks with his French, Italian, British, Canadian and U.S. counterparts earlier this week during a weeklong trip to five of the G-7 countries in Europe and North America in the run-up to the gathering in the western Japan city.
The world should "not make light of the history" in which no nuclear weapons have been used over the past 77 years, said Kishida, elected from a Hiroshima constituency, in comments at a press conference in Washington.
He added that the G-7 will confirm its commitment to upholding "the international order based on the rule of law" at the upcoming summit in the city devastated by a U.S. atomic bombing in August 1945.
On Friday, Kishida met with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington. The two leaders agreed that Japan and the United States will deepen security ties and join hands to secure semiconductor supply chains to counter China's economic clout in the region.
Tokyo and Washington "will try to strengthen the bilateral alliance and bolster cooperation in fields ranging from the economy to technology," Kishida said.
He emphasized that "semiconductors are key materials for economic security," adding that Japan will consider its approach to the issue alongside allies including the United States, with an eye on China's rise in the Indo-Pacific region.
Kishida, however, did not elaborate on whether Japan will impose export controls on semiconductors against China, a move recently implemented by the United States.
As for Japan's relations with its neighbors, Kishida said he has no clear plan so far to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the G-7 summit, while vowing to maintain communication with South Korea in a bid to improve ties.
Tokyo has been at odds with Beijing over Taiwan. Japan-South Korea relations, meanwhile, soured to the worst level in decades under President Yoon Suk Yeol's predecessor, Moon Jae In, due largely to a dispute over wartime labor.
Kishida said Japan will aim to build "constructive and stable" ties with China, but will also continue urging the country's leadership to "take responsible action" as an Asian power.
Communist-led China and self-ruled democratic Taiwan have been governed separately since they split in 1949 as the result of a civil war. Beijing regards the island a renegade province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.
Kishida and Biden agreed Friday to develop Japan's defense capabilities, reaffirming the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
In December, Japan decided to almost double its defense spending over the next five years and to acquire enemy base strike capabilities to deter attacks on its territory, in the face of growing military threats from its neighbors such as China.
The Kishida administration is planning to raise taxes to finance measures for Japan's major shift in its defense policy under the war-renouncing Constitution, which has increased public distrust of his government.
"I would like to thoroughly explain to the public through parliamentary debates with opposition parties" about the tax hikes, Kishida said.