• Kyodo


The government is arranging for Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev to visit Hiroshima when he comes to Japan in early November for talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, according to a source knowledgeable about the bilateral relationship.

Abe hopes to reach an agreement with Nazarbayev to boost cooperation on nuclear disarmament, a field important to the Kazakh leader, the source said Tuesday.

Abe sounded out Nazarbayev about visiting Japan, including the atomic-bombed city of Hiroshima this year when they met last week on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hangzhou, China.

The office of the president of Kazakhstan later announced that Abe has invited Nazarbayev to visit Nagasaki, the other atomic-bombed city. The source said the invitation may have been wrongly interpreted.

Nazarbayev’s visit to Japan is expected to take place around Nov. 8. The Abe government will reaffirm its plan to help build a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan, the source said.

The two leaders are also likely to agree to strengthen bilateral economic ties, as Japan hopes to procure the Central Asian country’s abundant uranium reserves and rich natural resources such as oil and rare earths, the source said.

More than 1.5 million people in Kazakhstan have been affected by 456 nuclear tests conducted by the Soviet Union at the Semipalatinsk test site in the northeast of the country. In 1991, Nazarbayev announced the site’s shutdown.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, about 1,400 nuclear warheads remained in Kazakhstan, which were eventually returned to Russia.

Since coming into office in 1990, Nazarbayev has been involved in nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation efforts as well as boosting nuclear security.

U.S. President Barack Obama, when he met with the Kazakh president in 2012, praised Nazarbayev as “a model in efforts around the world to eliminate nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands.”

The Abe administration has been calling on world leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki and see firsthand the realities of nuclear weapons. Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima in May.

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