Leaders from the Group of Seven nations and select guests will meet for the summit in the Japanese port city that was decimated by a US-detonated atomic bomb in 1945

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 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with some of the G7 leaders on a European whistle-stop tour to secure more weapons for his country ahead of a long-awaited counter-offensive to retake 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 attack of its kind in armed combat.

About 70,000 people were killed immediately and tens of thousands more died of radiation poisoning before the end of the year.

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 grown since the start of the war, with Russian President Vladimir Putin issuing threats amid renewed tests of hypersonic missiles.

“Hiroshima is the most appropriate place to express our commitment to peace and to promote nuclear disarmament and prevent the non-proliferation of nuclear-related material,” Noriyuki Shikata, State Secretary for Public Affairs at Japan’s Prime Minister’s Office, told Euronews.

Japanese support for Ukraine

Japan is the only G7 nation that has not sent lethal weapons to Ukraine. The country’s national security strategy only allows the transfer of advanced weapons, such as armored tanks and fighter jets, to countries that jointly produce the hardware.

However, Tokyo pledged a new 5 billion euro economic aid package to Ukraine on the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion, and Kishida made a surprise trip to Kiev in March, becoming Japan’s first postwar leader to enter a war zone since World War II.

“Prime Minister Kishida respects the courage and perseverance of the Ukrainian people, and the courageous leadership of President Zelenskyy who stands up to defend their homeland and democracy,” Shikata said.

“Japan has consistently and strongly condemned Russia, imposed severe sanctions and provided active support,” he added.

New EU sanctions

The summit also comes just over a week after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the 11th round of sanctions against Russia that will focus on combating circumvention of EU sanctions by targeting individuals, entities and third-party countries which helps Russia.

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

G7 finance ministers and central bank governors, who met ahead of the summit, pledged to enforce sanctions against Russia, tackle rising inflation, strengthen financial systems and help heavily indebted countries.

Tensions in the South China Sea

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

Shikata says the fear that Beijing may try to take the self-ruled island of Taiwan by force is a serious concern not only 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 strong determination of the G7 to categorically deny military aggression, any threat of nuclear weapons, as well as attempts to harm the international order,” Shikata concluded.