HIROSHIMA – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry concluded his visit to Hiroshima for the Group of Seven foreign ministers’ meeting Monday by calling the displays of nuclear horror at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum “gut-wrenching” and “stunning.”
“It tugs at all of your sensibilities as a human being,” Kerry said at a news conference following the conclusion of the ministerial meeting. “It also reminds everybody of the extraordinary complexities of the choices of war, and what war does to people and to communities, to countries, and to the world.”
But Kerry deferred when asked if his visit — and experiences in the city — will now help persuade U.S. President Barack Obama to visit Hiroshima when he comes to Japan next month for the G-7 leaders’ summit in the Ise-Shima area in Mie Prefecture.
“Everyone should visit Hiroshima and everyone means everyone,” Kerry said. “One day, I hope the president will be among the ‘everyone’ who is able to come here.
“Whether or not he can come as president — I don’t know. That’s subject to a full and complicated schedule. I just don’t know if that can work in the next visit (to Ise-Shima),” he added.
Kerry also defended the Obama administration’s record on seeking the elimination of atomic weapons, noting the Iran nuclear deal reached last year. He said North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs remains the one intractable area, and that the regime’s actions are an aberration from the direction in which the world wants to go.
He suggested that the U.S. is on the path to getting tougher against North Korea over its nuclear program, though he held out hope for reconciliation.
Kerry also reserved special criticism for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has suggested in interviews that Japan and South Korea might acquire nuclear weapons.
“Any suggestions by any candidate for high public office that we should be building more weapons and giving them to a country like (South) Korea or Japan are absurd on their face and run counter to everything every president has tried to achieve since World War II,” Kerry said.
Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Kerry met on the sidelines of the foreign ministers summit.
“The visit to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park by Kerry and other G-7 foreign ministers makes today a historic one,” Kishida said at the beginning of their meeting.
The one-on-one meeting covered the bilateral security relationship and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal as well as various global issues.
Kishida explained the recent settlement between Okinawa Prefecture, which opposes the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, and the central government that calls for a temporary halt to the construction. Tokyo and Washington insist the move within the prefecture from the heavily populated city of Ginowan to the Henoko district of Nago is the only option.
Regarding the TPP agreement, which has faced strong opposition in the U.S. and is opposed by all presidential candidates, the two sides expressed hopes for its early adoption by both countries.