G7: A mixed message from Hiroshima, city of peace

26 May 2023 12:57 am – 0      – 40

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) and Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (R) attending a wreath laying ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, following the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Hiroshima

 

Hiroshima is known as the city of world peace. The people of the city are proud of their peace culture which has its roots in the aftermath of the atomic bomb attack that reduced the city to high-radiation ashes. 

Instead of revenge and developing animosity towards the United States which dropped the atomic bomb – the world’s first nuclear attack – on Hiroshima at 8.15 am on August 6, 1945, Hiroshima’s people decided to repel evil with good and replace anger with friendship and world peace.

Peace is power and nowhere is this power more evident than in Hiroshima, which last week hosted the G7 summit of the seven top industrialized democracies. To be in tune with Hiroshima’s world peace ambition, the host nation’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, spent all his energy to turn the summit into a launching pad to bring about a world without nuclear weapons.

He chose Hiroshima, his constituency, as the summit venue to drive home the message of disarmament at a time when peace lovers fear the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war is plunging towards a nuclear confrontation between Russia and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation).
Part of the summit activity was a visit by G7 leaders to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, which showcases the charred horror of the US crime against humanity.

The G7 summit ended with a lengthy communique where the leaders vowed to work toward the realisation of Japan’s dream of a world without nuclear weapons, though three G7 countries – the US, Britain, and France – together account for nearly 50 percent of the world’s nuclear arsenal of about 12,500
earth-destroying weapons.
After visiting the peace memorial, Premier Kishida wrote, “As Chair of the G7, I am gathering here together with the leaders of G7 countries on this historic occasion of the G7 Summit to realise a world without nuclear weapons.”

US President Joe Biden, the custodian of 5,428 nuclear weapons, wrote: “May the stories of this Museum remind us all of our obligations to build a future of peace. Together, let us continue to make progress toward the day when we can finally and forever rid the world of nuclear weapons. Keep the faith.”
While also reminding Russia of its commitment towards disarmament and urging Russia to withdraw from territories it occupies in Ukraine, G7 leaders in their final communique said: “In a solemn and reflective moment, we reaffirm, in this first G7 Leaders’ document with a particular focus on nuclear disarmament, our commitment to achieving a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all.”

But how committed are the world leaders to their claim? A yawning gap exists between the summit’s disarmament message and the ground reality. The contradiction is disappointing.
Take for instance Japan. It depends on the US nuclear umbrella to protect itself from three hostile nuclear powers in its neighbourhood – Russia with 5,977 nuclear weapons, China with 410 nuclear weapons, and unpredictable and nonconformist North Korea with 20 nuclear weapons. Besides, Japan is a key member of the Quadrilateral Security Alliance or the Quad which is, more or less, a formal grouping with regular meetings among its leaders. Last week, on the sidelines of the G7 summit, too, the Quad members – the US, Japan, Australia, and India –met. Both India and Australia were also present in Hiroshima as G7 outreach nations.

Critics describe G7 as NATO Plus One, as six of its members are in NATO. Pointing out Japan’s gradual drift away from pacifism as enshrined in Article 9 of its constitution, critics say Japan is increasing its military budget. However, Japan says it is committed to proactive pacifism and its militarization drive was solely to defend itself.
Given Japan’s dependency on the nuclear-power US, Tokyo’s new disarmament drive appears to be a paradox.

Since nuclear weapons mean power, none of G7’s nuclear powers would agree to a total abolition of nuclear weapons. Given the destructive power of a single nuclear weapon, talks of nuclear disarmament are meaningless if disarmament means a reduction in the number of nuclear weapons. Nuclear disarmament should mean nothing but the total abolition of nuclear weapons. Will the G7’s nuclear trio – the US, Britain, and France — dismantle their nuclear arsenal to set an example? Not until the sun rises from the West.

Apart from Japan’s fresh drive for nuclear disarmament, the G7 summit turned out to be an antithesis of what Hiroshima would have anticipated from it. The Peace City’s peace call was undermined by what critics say G7’s cold-war-like rhetoric against Russia
and China.
Adding fuel to Ukraine’s burning fires, Biden, from the G7 summit venue, announced the supply of highly sophisticated F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine – a move that is sure to escalate the war, instead of ending it in Ukraine’s favour. Does not Biden know that Russia will not go down without fighting back with weapons that have more destructive power than what it had already used? This could even mean the use of nuclear weapons.

That the Hiroshima summit ended without any fresh hope for peace in Ukraine is a serious blow to the ideals of the peace city. It did not go unnoticed in Moscow and Beijing either.
Beijing strongly disagreed with the harshly toned G7 communiqué. China’s Communist Party newspaper Global Times said that what “the group does is to hinder international peace, undermine regional stability and curb other countries’ development.” It quoted Chinese experts as saying that the G7 had descended into an echo chamber of US talking points.
Beyond doubt, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is unacceptable, illegal, and a violation of international law, however much the Kremlin justifies it by saying Ukraine’s moves towards obtaining NATO membership and NATO’s eastward expansion towards Russia’s border were major security threats.

However, problems of this nature could have been solved through diplomacy. But Russia received no such assurance from the US-dominated NATO. When diplomacy failed, the war began. Yet, it is still not too late to initiate diplomatic efforts to bring about a win-win solution to the Ukraine crisis.
While the military-industrial complex, a big-time election campaign funder in the US, makes huge profits from the Ukraine war, NATO is playing a dangerous game to weaken Russia militarily and financially.

Sixty years ago, US President John F Kennedy warned that the US as a nuclear power, while defending its vital interests, must avert “those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war.” He said, “To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy — or of a collective death wish for the world.”
Kennedy’s prophetic message should have been printed and distributed among the G7 leaders and Ukraine President Volodymir Zelensky at the Hiroshima summit to stress the urgent need to bring a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine war and avert a nuclear conflict.


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