Interview with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida

“Renewed determination to bring about nuclear disarmament”

by Jumpei Fujimura, Staff Writer

People respond differently to Hiroshima native at international conferences

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will attend the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima on August 6. The Chugoku Shimbun asked him how he feels about that and about the challenges of denuclearization diplomacy. The following are excerpts from that interview.

This will be your first August 6 as foreign minister.
August 6 is a special day for citizens of Hiroshima. As the first foreign minister from the city, I have renewed my determination to actively work to bring about nuclear disarmament. There’s a lot that must be done.

Do you feel that your statements as a foreign minister from Hiroshima have international influence?
Nuclear disarmament is a global issue, so naturally it is a topic of discussion at international conferences and bilateral talks. On those occasions, when I mention that I’m from Hiroshima, people respond differently. When working to win over other countries and when exercising leadership, I will make a point of mentioning it. At the same time, I know that the people of Hiroshima are counting on me, and I feel a responsibility to them.

The Japanese government did not support a joint declaration on the effects of nuclear weapons on humanity that was issued at the second meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the review conference of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in Geneva, Switzerland. This sparked criticism in Hiroshima.
I am well aware that, apart from the destruction caused, the use of nuclear weapons also results in grievous harm to future generations. Meanwhile, in light of Japan’s challenging security environment, I directed that some changes be made in the wording of the declaration, but we couldn’t get it done.

I explained Japan’s position the other day in talks with the foreign ministers of New Zealand and Malaysia, the prime movers behind the declaration. I will prepare thoroughly for the next declaration.

What will you do to bring about a world without nuclear weapons?
The Non-proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, which comprises Japan and nine other non-nuclear nations, is very important. A meeting of the foreign ministers of the member nations will be held in Hiroshima in April of next year. That will provide an excellent opportunity to tell them about the reality of the destruction caused by the A-bomb and at the same time to convey to the world Hiroshima’s strong desire for nuclear disarmament. I would like to provide solid leadership in the effort to bring about a world without nuclear weapons.

(Originally published on August 1, 2013)