Kishida to visit France, Italy ahead of G-7 talks in Japan


Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida plans to make a three-day visit to France and Italy from March 19 for talks with his counterparts in the two countries ahead of the Group of Seven foreign ministers’ meeting in April in Hiroshima, a government source said Friday.

In separate talks with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault and Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Kishida is eager to address nuclear disarmament issues to be discussed at the G-7 meeting.

The Kishida plans to invite them to the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, which suffered the U.S. atomic bombing in 1945, while they are in the city for the April 10 to 11 talks, according to the source.

Kishida, a veteran lawmaker elected from the constituency of Hiroshima, has said he hopes to make progress on talks over nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation at the G-7 meeting, underscoring that Japan, the world’s sole victim of atomic bombings, can play a role as a “mediator” between nuclear and nonnuclear powers.

“It is one month before the (G-7) foreign ministers’ meeting. I would like to make utmost efforts to prepare for the talks and send out a firm message from Hiroshima” on nuclear disarmament, Kishida told reporters Friday.

Among the G-7 members, Britain, France and the United States possess nuclear weapons, while Canada, Germany, Italy and Japan do not.

The government plans to have all the G-7 foreign ministers visit the Peace Memorial Park while they are in Hiroshima as a way of heightening global momentum for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.

Stephane Dion of Canada expressed his intention to visit the Peace Memorial Park in his talks with Kishida in Canada in mid-February.

Kishida also aims to agree with Ayrault and Gentiloni to coordinate closely in addressing North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea, the source said. Both topics are expected to be key agenda items at the G-7 leaders’ talks set to be held in late May in Mie Prefecture.

North Korea’s fourth nuclear test in January and subsequent long-range rocket launch, coming in defiance of past U.N. Security Council resolutions banning such acts, have spurred global condemnation.

In the South China Sea, China’s massive and fast-paced land reclamation works, deemed a way of asserting its territorial claims and maritime interests, has created tensions.

Beijing’s increased muscle-flexing has stoked concerns in neighboring countries that it is pursuing militarization of the sea.