Obama's possible Hiroshima visit meaningful for disarmament: Kishida

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has said it will be "meaningful" as part of efforts to build the momentum for nuclear disarmament if U.S. President Barack Obama visits Hiroshima or Nagasaki, the possibility of which has sometimes been referred to in news reports.

In a written interview with Kyodo News on the occasion of Tuesday's anniversary of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Kishida also suggested Japan's constructive approach to a movement against the use of nuclear weapons.

He said Tokyo would "seriously explore" the possibility of endorsing a statement on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, which Japan rejected at a preparatory committee in April held for the next Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review meeting, if a similar statement is put forward in the future.

Representing a House of Representatives constituency in the city of Hiroshima, Kishida stressed that his commitment to nuclear disarmament is stronger than those of other people.

"I grew up hearing about the horror of nuclear weapons use from my early childhood," he said. "I intend to establish the correct understanding of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons use as the starting point for nuclear disarmament efforts in the international community."

Kishida said Japan's failure to endorse the statement in April was "quite regrettable," but stressed that Tokyo had run out of time despite coming close to agreeing with other countries on the wording of the statement.

Japan's top diplomat argued that it is important to calmly recognize the "diversified nuclear risks" faced by the country, such as North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, all the while Japan continues to depend on the nuclear shield provided by the United States for its protection against a nuclear threat.

Kishida said he will work hard for a "world free of nuclear weapons" -- a vision sought by Obama -- while ensuring the security of Japan.

Japan and the United States are arranging for Obama to make a state visit to Japan, possibly next spring, for talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss strengthening the bilateral alliance, government sources said earlier.

A key focus of Obama's envisioned trip is whether he would visit the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He would be the first U.S. president to do so.

"I would be honored to have the opportunity to visit those cities at some point during my presidency," Obama said at a news conference during his visit to Japan in November 2009.