Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida pledged his country's efforts toward nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament Saturday at a meeting of non-nuclear weapon countries in the city of Hiroshima.
At the ministerial meeting, the 12-member Nonproliferation and Disarmament Initiative is expected to call on nuclear powers to scale back their arsenals and for world leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two Japanese cities devastated by U.S. atomic bombings in World War II.
Representatives from the member states visited a memorial monument and a museum at Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park before entering the eighth meeting of the NPDI, which was launched in 2010 and is being held in Japan for the first time.
"Japan will lead international efforts based on an awareness of the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use and a calm awareness of the diversification of nuclear arms-related risks we are faced with," Kishida, who chairs the talks, said in his opening remarks.
The meeting takes place in the run-up to a session of the preparatory committee for a review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the cornerstone international treaty on nuclear arms reduction, to be held in New York from April 28.
The NPDI has already submitted several working papers to the preparatory committee on topics such as improving transparency in nuclear disarmament and on stalled talks to create a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
But doubts linger as to how effective the NPDI will be in bringing about moves to reduce nuclear arsenals, as more than half of the member states, including Japan, are protected by the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization "nuclear umbrella" deterrent.
Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, is scheduled to attend part of the meeting later as an observer, becoming the first U.S. official to do so at an NPDI meeting.
The NPDI consists of Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.