The Japanese government is arranging a meeting between the Group of Seven leaders and atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima in May when Japan hosts a summit of the grouping, a government source said Saturday, as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida seeks to build momentum toward ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
Arrangements are being made for the leaders to meet with atomic bomb survivors, known in Japan as hibakusha, during a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in the western Japan city on May 19, when the three-day summit opens, the source said.
The government has been sounding out the G-7 members about the plan. It would be the first joint visit to the museum, dedicated to conveying the horrors of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima in the closing days of World War II, by the leaders of the G-7, including nuclear powers Britain, France and the United States.
Kishida, who represents a constituency in Hiroshima, is hoping to use the G-7 summit to pitch his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons, amid concern Russia could use such weapons in its ongoing war in Ukraine.
In February, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui and Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue asked Kishida to arrange a visit by the G-7 leaders to the museum and a dialogue with atomic bomb survivors.
Kishida responded that "trends worldwide are moving against the abolition of nuclear weapons," but he hopes to "create an opportunity to reverse them."
The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and a second one on Nagasaki three days later. Around 210,000 people are estimated to have died from the attacks by the end of 1945, and many have suffered from the long-term effects of radiation exposure.
In 2016, Barack Obama, who has also advocated a world free of nuclear weapons, became the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in Hiroshima.
He exchanged words with Sunao Tsuboi, a Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor and a chairperson of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations. Obama toured the peace museum but only stayed briefly.
Tsuboi died in 2021 at aged 96.