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G7 leaders to address Ukraine war and nuclear disarmament at Hiroshima summit

The leaders of the world's seven richest democracies will arrive in Hiroshima, Japan, on Friday for a three-day summit to discuss the risk of nuclear proliferation in the face of Russia's war in Ukraine and a recent spate of ballistic missile tests in nearby North Korea.

These high-level talks in the southern port city will take place just days after Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met some of the G7 leaders on a European whistlestop tour to secure more weapons for his country ahead of a widely anticipated counteroffensive to reclaim territory from Russian forces.

Hiroshima is perhaps best known as the city that was reduced to ashes in 1945 when the US military dropped an atomic bomb in the first-ever attack of its kind in armed combat.

Approximately 70,000 people were killed instantly and tens of thousands more died from radiation poisoning before the end of the year.

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As Japan is the current holder of the G7 presidency, host Fumio Kishida, Japan's Prime Minister, is expected to highlight the significance of a nuclear attack as well as Tokyo's commitment to Ukraine.

Fears of another nuclear attack have increased since the start of the war, with Russian President Vladimir Putin issuing threats amid renewed testing of hypersonic missiles.

"Hiroshima is the most fitting location to express our commitment to peace and promoting nuclear disarmament and preventing non-proliferation of nuclear-related materials," Noriyuki Shikata, the Cabinet Secretary for Public Affairs at the Prime Minister's Office of Japan, told Euronews.

Japanese support for Ukraine

Japan is the only G7 nation that hasn't sent lethal weapons to Ukraine. The country's national security strategy solely permits the transfer of advanced weaponry, such as armoured tanks and warplanes, to countries that jointly produce the hardware.

However, Tokyo pledged a new financial aid package of €5 billion to Ukraine on the one-year anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion and Kishida made a surprise trip to Kyiv in March, becoming Japan's first postwar leader to enter a warzone since World War II.

"Prime Minister Kishida respects the courage and perseverance of the Ukrainian people, and President Zelenskyy's courageous leadership, standing up to defend their homeland and democracy," said Shikata.

"Japan has consistently and strongly condemned Russia, imposed strict sanctions, and provided active support," he added.

New EU sanctions

The summit also falls just over a week after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the eleventh round of sanctions on Russia which will focus on combatting the circumvention of EU sanctions by targetting individuals, entities, and third-party countries that are aiding Russia.

Customarily, the European Commission President and the European Council President, Charles Michel, are also invited to attend the summit in Hiroshima.

G7 finance ministers and central bank chiefs, who met ahead of the summit, pledged to enforce sanctions against Russia, tackle rising inflation, bolster financial systems, and help countries burdened by heavy debts.

Tensions in the South China Sea

G7 leaders are also girding for the possibility of renewed conflict in Asia.

Shikata says fears that Beijing might try to seize the self-ruled island of Taiwan by force are not only a serious concern for Japan but also for the international community.

According to the Pentagon, China is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal from a current estimate of 400 warheads to 1,500 by 2035.

"This will be a very important occasion to be held in Hiroshima... to demonstrate the G7's strong determination to categorically deny military aggression, any threat of nuclear weapons, as well as attempts to damage the international order" concluded Shikata.