Background on President Biden at the G7 Summit in Hiroshima May 19, 2023
A Message from Martin Fleck, Nuclear Weapons Abolition Program Director, PSR National
President Biden is in Hiroshima, Japan, for the annual Group of 7 Summit, which commenced today. This will definitely be in the news. On May 16, the Nuclear Weapons Abolition Program sent out an action alert to the NWA e-activist list about the G7. I am writing to expand upon that action alert to provide you with some more background. (If you need something that you don’t find here, please let me know. On May 22, I expect to send one more of these bulletins with the upshot after the G7 concludes.)
The G7 Summit runs through Sunday, but it is unclear whether Biden will attend the whole event — Biden’s people have announced he will cut short his Asia trip in order to return to DC to re-commence arguing with the GOP over raising the debt ceiling. Biden has already done a 70 min. meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida.
What is the G7?
The G7 consists of heads of state from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the USA, who will meet to discuss and address major global issues. The G7 Summit is hosted this year by Japan.
What’s the connection with nuclear weapons?
Japan PM Fumio Kishida chose his hometown of Hiroshima for the G7 venue, saying the meeting presents a unique opportunity “to deepen discussions so that we can release a strong message toward realizing a world free of nuclear weapons” and to “demonstrate a firm commitment to absolutely reject the threat or use of nuclear weapons.” To underline that, he plans to take the world leaders to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. It is also likely that the G7 leaders will meet face-to-face with hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors). So watch for photos and stories about these encounters. On May 16, at a White House briefing, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said: “The President plans to visit the memorial and to pay his respects to the lives of the innocents who were killed in the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.” Many have called for the G7 to make serious headway toward nuclear disarmament, and many Americans have urged Biden to use this opportunity to give a speech on how his administration will pursue its stated goal of “a world free of nuclear weapons” (see below). My understanding is that we should NOT expect such a speech from Biden. Furthermore, we are expecting the G7 to issue a joint “Leaders Vision on Nuclear Disarmament” that will likely fall far short of supporting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons or pushing for total elimination of nuclear weapons. Be on the lookout for verbiage about Russia being “irresponsible” with its nuclear weapons, while portraying USA, UK and France as “responsible” nuclear-armed countries.
Resources from ICAN
PSR is one of 650 partner organizations in 110 nations in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN), winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. ICAN and Peace Boat are coordinating activities in Hiroshima to promote the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and after the Summit concludes Sunday, ICAN will hold a press conference featuring hibakusha Setsuko Thurlow.
- * ICAN “briefing paper” on the G7 summit, including what ICAN is asking for from the G7
- * ICAN and Peace Boat schedule of events including Sunday closing press event, 4pm Japan time, featuring hibakusha Setsuko Thurlow
- * #G7YouthVsNukes Toolkit
Some NGO efforts to influence the G7 discussions
- PSR and 23 other NGOs signed onto a letter that was delivered to Biden on April 19, urging him to deliver a speech in Hiroshima outlining USA steps toward disarmament.
- On April 27, the delegates of the Hiroshima G7 Youth Summit, sponsored by ICAN presented requests to the G7 leaders for the upcoming summit. That statement is here.
- On May 17, the Presidents of the International Committee of the Red Cross and of the Japanese Red Cross Society issued a joint statement: Avoiding catastrophe: we must act now to ensure nuclear weapons are never used again
- On May 4, Senators Ed Markey and Jeff Merkley, and Representatives Don Beyer and John Garamendi, who lead the Congressional Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group, sent a letter to Biden about the G7 summit urging him to “propose specific steps your administration is prepared to take to advance a new global nuclear disarmament dialogue.”
- On May 17, the Catholic archbishops of Santa Fe, Seattle, Hiroshima and Nagasaki sent a joint letter to the G7 urging them to promote disarmament. Japanese and US bishops jointly call on G-7 to prioritize nuclear disarmament
- The European Leadership Network and Asia Pacific Leadership Network sent in a joint statement from over 200 leaders and experts from 50 nations, including 6 former heads of state and 26 former Foreign & Defense Ministers, urging the G7 leaders to prioritize nuclear arms control. Protecting nuclear arms control is a global imperative
A few relevant news hits
Haunted by Hiroshima, Japanese Leader to Meet Biden With a Push for No Nukes
Peter Landers Chieko Tsuneoka The Wall Street Journal May 17
At Hiroshima, Leaders Should Choose to End All Nuclear Threats
On May 17, Daryl Kimball (ACA) and Zia Mian (Princeton. Zia is also on an ICAN advisory board) placed an op-ed in Scientific American. The authors do an excellent job of calling ‘foul ball’ on the USA and NATO allies condemning Putin’s nuclear threats while failing to acknowledge their own nuclear threats.
Hiroshima survivors urge G7 leaders to unite against atomic weapons
Justin McCurry The Guardian May 15
‘This Is Hell’: Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Survivors Live in Fear of Another Nuclear Catastrophe (Quoting Setsuko Thurlow) Charlie Campbell, Time.com
What happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
The atomic bombings were August 6 (Hiroshima) and August 9 (Nagasaki), 1945. By the end of 1945, the bombing had killed an estimated 140,000 people in Hiroshima, and a further 74,000 in Nagasaki.
More detail here: The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: A Summary of the Human Consequences, 1945-2018, and Lessons for homo sapiens to End the Nuclear Weapon Age by Dr. Masao Tomonaga, professor emeritus, Atomic Bomb Disease Institute, Nagasaki University Graduate School of Biomedical Science.