The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki requested Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday create occasions for world leaders visiting Hiroshima for the Group of Seven summit in May to engage with both cities' local communities to understand the reality of nuclear war.

In response to the request by Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui and Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue to realize the leaders' dialogue with atomic-bomb survivors and visits to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Kishida acknowledged that "trends worldwide are moving against the abolition of nuclear weapons," but added that he hopes to "create an opportunity to reverse them."

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui (R) and Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue (L) pose for photos alongside Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Feb. 14, 2023, at the premier's office in Tokyo. (Kyodo)

Amid heightened tensions since Russia's war against Ukraine began almost a year ago, Japan has chosen Hiroshima, which was devastated by a 1945 U.S. atomic bombing in World War II, as the venue for its turn to host the leaders' summit.

Regarding appeals for leaders to also visit Nagasaki, the second city devastated by atomic bombing, Kishida expressed appreciation for the city's feelings. But regarding the detailed schedule for the May 19-21 summit, he only said it was still being decided.

The two mayors also met with U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel earlier in the day and requested that U.S. President Joe Biden visit Nagasaki.

Their letter of request addressed to Biden and other leaders said that their citizens have "one fervent plea to the leaders of nations: come to the atomic-bombed cities and see for yourself the truth of the consequences of nuclear weapons."

The call by the two atomic-bombed cities comes as the country prepares for the summit to be attended by heads of the G-7 countries of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, plus the European Union.

Kishida, who is from Hiroshima and represents a constituency in the prefecture, plans to use the gathering as an opportunity to pitch his vision of a world without nuclear weapons amid concern that Russia could use one against Ukraine.

A former Hiroshima mayor and other members of a group against atomic and hydrogen bombs also urged the prime minister on Tuesday to use the coming summit in the western Japanese city to take the lead in realizing nuclear disarmament.

The group, a local unit of the Japan Congress against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs, submitted an open letter to the Cabinet Office addressed to the prime minister, stating that as a first step, nations possessing nuclear weapons must declare they will not use or threaten to use the devices.

"The historical significance of the leaders of three nuclear weapons states gathering in Hiroshima to attend the summit should be no other than this declaration," the statement said.

Former Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, who represents the group, said in a press conference in Tokyo that such a declaration would be "effective in stopping Russian President (Vladimir) Putin from making nuclear threats."

Akiba was the mayor of Hiroshima from 1999 to 2011 and also serves as an advisor to the anti-nuclear organization.

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