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Kishida likely to visit Hiroshima with new U.S. ambassador

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is planning to make a symbolic visit to Hiroshima on Feb. 26 accompanied by the new U.S. ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, government sources said.

 
Kishida, who represents a constituency in Hiroshima, has vowed to make the elimination of nuclear weapons his life’s work.
 
The visit to Hiroshima arose when Kishida met with Emanuel at the prime minister’s office on Feb. 4, according to the sources.
 
Emanuel, a former White House chief of staff for President Barack Obama who later served as mayor of Chicago, arrived in Japan last month to take up his post.
 
There were expectations he would offer flowers at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in memory of the lives lost in the city’s 1945 atomic bombing and where the iconic atomic bomb dome is located, the sources said.
 
A final decision on the visit hinges on the COVID-19 situation, as Hiroshima is under pre-emergency measures.
 
The planned visit comes on the heels of a joint statement over the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons released by Tokyo and Washington in January in which the two countries urged world leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only two cities to have been leveled in atomic warfare.
 
Obama visited Hiroshima in 2016, making him the first U.S. sitting president to do so.
 
In an address to the Diet in January, Kishida vowed to pursue a world without nuclear weapons as he is from a Hiroshima constituency and out of respect for the wishes of the city’s residents. He also referred to Obama’s epoch-making gesture.
 

Kishida also said he will help set up a conference of eminent persons on the issue of nuclear disarmament with the objective of holding the first meeting in Hiroshima this year.

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