• Kyodo

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Japan plans to call on the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven countries to visit facilities related to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima to reinvigorate efforts toward nuclear disarmament when they visit the city for a ministerial meeting next April.

According to officials, the government will urge these top diplomats to leave flowers in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, while planning to offer opportunities for them to listen to the stories of bomb survivors.

Of the G-7 nations, the United States, Britain and France are nuclear weapons states and their current leaders and foreign ministers have yet to visit Hiroshima, while the leaders or foreign ministers of Canada, Germany and Italy have laid flowers at the park and visited the museum.

By taking advantage of their visit to Hiroshima, the government hopes the ministers will be “exposed to the reality” of the atomic bombing, one official said Monday.

Japan wants to build momentum for nuclear disarmament after talks at the U.N. review conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty last spring collapsed and failed to produce a consensus document, the officials said.

Japan also hopes to use this opportunity with the G-7 foreign ministers to spur efforts to get President Barack Obama to visit one of the atomic-bombed cities, they said.

The central government is pursuing the plan at the request of the Hiroshima Municipal Government, which hopes the world’s leaders and officials, through visiting the city, will understand the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is also keen for world leaders to visit the two atomic-bombed cities on the occasion of the G-7 summit in Mie Prefecture next May.

The government was inspired to push for the plan after it received positive feedback from some of the foreign ministers and representatives of non-nuclear states when they visited the park on the sidelines of a meeting in April last year in Hiroshima under the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative framework, the officials said.

The meeting of 12 non-nuclear states was chaired by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.

The sources said Japan plans to offer a similar exposure program for the G-7 foreign ministers.

In this year’s commemorative ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Washington sent Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. Gottemoeller is the first high-level official the U.S. government has sent to the annual ceremonies.

Expectations in Hiroshima are growing for the first visit by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, but a U.S. government source said the secretary of state’s diplomatic schedule for next year remains uncertain.

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