Hiroshima, Japan – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has condemned Russia and pledged “unwavering solidarity” with Ukraine in a symbolism-laden address condemning attempts anywhere to change the status quo by force.
Speaking against the backdrop of the Atomic Bomb Dome in Japan’s Hiroshima, the site of the world’s first nuclear weapon attack, Kishida said Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine had struck at the “very foundation of the international order”.
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“Wherever in the world, attempting to unilaterally change the status quo by force can never be accepted,” Kishida said on Sunday in a speech marking the final day of the Group of Seven (G7) summit.
“The G7 will endeavour to bring just and lasting peace as quickly as possible for Ukraine.”
Kishida said Japan’s “mission” as the G7 host would be to “firmly uphold the free and open international order based on the rule of law and to show our resolve to fully defend peace and prosperity.”
A longtime advocate against nuclear weapons who has family roots in Hiroshima, Kishida reiterated calls for a world free from the threat of nuclear war, declaring: “We are all citizens of Hiroshima.”
“We the G7 leaders are gathered here in this place transcending time,” Kishida said. “We are hearing together the voice and prayers of Hiroshima.”
Kishida added that there should “never be any threat of the use of nuclear weapons, let alone use of nuclear weapons, to change the status quo by force”, in an apparent reference to Russia’s threats to use nuclear weapons.
‘Powerful historic’ statement on denuclearisation
Under Kishida, Japan has taken the strongest stand against Russia’s war in Ukraine in the region, casting the invasion as a threat to peace everywhere and linking the plight of the European country to the fate of Taiwan, which China has threatened to take by force if necessary.
Kishida said the G7 leaders had agreed to a “powerful historic” statement on denuclearisation for the first time, although it was unclear what tangible action, if any, might result.
While Kishida has sought to use the G7 summit to draw attention to the risk of nuclear war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s surprise attendance at the gathering has firmly concentrated attention on the global response to the 15-month-long war in his homeland.
Since arriving in Japan on Saturday night, Zelenskyy has embarked on a diplomatic blitz to ramp up pressure on Russia and secure more support for his war-torn homeland, holding bilateral talks with G7 and non-G7 leaders, including US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Zelenskyy, whose trip to Japan comes after whistle-stop visits to Europe and Saudi Arabia, is set to hold a news conference on Sunday evening before the conclusion of the three-day event.