10 Avril 2016
April 10, 2016
HIROSHIMA – The Group of Seven (G-7) foreign ministers’ meeting kicked off Sunday in the city of Hiroshima to pave the way for their leaders’ late May summit which will be held in Mie Prefecture.
At the end of the two-day meeting, foreign ministers from Japan, the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union are expected to adopt a communique, as well as the Hiroshima Declaration, which will aim for a nuclear weapons-free world, and a statement regarding maritime security.
The meeting and the statements will set the stage for the G-7 summit scheduled for May 26 and 27 in Ise-Shima, Mie Prefecture. A total of 11 related meetings will be held in Japan through September, including a gathering of G-7 finance ministers and central bank governors in Sendai immediately before the summit.
On the first day of their meeting, the ministers discussed global concerns such as terrorism and refugee issues. Counterterrorism is the most imminent threat to Europe, which has been a frequent target of attacks, notably by the Islamic State extremist group.
Last November, IS launched a series of shooting and bomb attacks in Paris, in which 130 people were killed. The group also claimed responsibility for two other attacks launched in the Belgian capital, Brussels, last month. In those attacks, 32 people died.
Brussels came under fire after miscommunication and other errors failed to prevent the country’s deadliest-ever terrorist attack. Belgian authorities admitted that they missed an alert from Turkish authorities about Ibrahim El Bakraoui, one of the Brussels suicide bombers, who was arrested on suspicion of terrorism activities last year in Turkey.
The Belgian prosecutor’s office said El Bakraoui’s brother, Khalid, who along with Ibrahim also detonated a suicide belt at the airport, had been on the run since December in connection with the Paris attacks.
These acknowledgements underscore that the European Union and the global community need a better coordination to fight against terrorism.
The G-7 foreign ministers denounced indiscriminate killing by terrorists and agreed to lead global cooperation to fight violent and extremist attacks.
Japan’s foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, also said that G-7 nations should complement each other by utilizing their competitive edge in fighting terrorism and dealing with the refugee crisis, another big concern for European Union nations.
Although Germany has found itself one of the biggest recipients of refugees, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was absent from the first day’s meetings because his flight was delayed in China.
The ministers also talked about issues in the Middle East, such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Libya.
For Kishida, a third-generation Lower House lawmaker from Hiroshima, one of the main events of the meeting will take place Monday when he hosts the dignitaries during a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
This is the first time G-7 foreign ministers and nuclear powers, such as the United States, France, and Germany, will visit the museum. They will also lay floral tributes at the cenotaph located inside Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
Kishida has repeatedly said he hopes to bring global leaders to Hiroshima to experience the reality of the atomic bomb. To this end, he hopes to bridge differences between the world’s nuclear and nonnuclear powers by adopting the Hiroshima Declaration on Monday.
But any declaration is unlikely to mention “the inhuman aspect of atomic bomb,” something Japan has emphasized for a long time.
Last year, when Japan proposed a U.N. resolution including such a phrase, the U.S., Britain and France abstained from casting their votes.
In an interview with the Chugoku Shimbun, a local Hiroshima daily, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. supports a world without nuclear weapons.
Yet he said the U.S. will pursue the goal by taking what he referred to as realistic and pragmatic measures.
Kerry added that it is critical to find methods to make progress on nuclear disarmament to reduce the risk to America, its allies and the entire human race.
Meanwhile, as this is the first time the G-7 related meetings have been held in Asia for eight years, and Japan is the only G-7 member from the region, Kishida hopes to take the initiative in talking about territorial issues in the South China Sea, where Beijing has carried out massive land reclamation projects and deployed radar and surface-to-air missiles.
Without naming China, the statement on maritime security, which is likely to be adopted Monday, is expected to say countries should abide by international court rulings in dealing with territorial disputes.
In the coming month, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is expected to issue a ruling over the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China.
Beijing has expressed concern about Japan, which it sees as siding with other Southeast Asian nations that are at odds with Beijing regarding the territorial dispute in the South China Sea.
After talking with Steinmeier on Saturday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said bringing up the South China Sea issue at the Hiroshima conference will offer no solutions but only to affect the stability of regional security.