G7 Summit meets in Hiroshima to discuss the future of global relations

G7 Flower Sign

Ecclesiastes 5:8 If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still

Important Takeaways:

  • The Group of 7 will meet at a crucial time for slowing global growth as a result of hawkish central banks aiming to bring down inflation.
  • Leaders will discuss international trade and security as the world grapples with an ongoing war in Ukraine and worries over U.S.-China decoupling persist.
  • Leaders of the seven major industrial democracies – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, and United States – will discuss the future of global relations and the world economy as it faces a number of uncertainties: growing geopolitical tensions, central banks’ combat against rising inflation and a U.S. debt ceiling deadlock.
  • Geopolitical tensions with the U.S. overshadow China’s growth outlook as well as instigate fears over global supply chains.

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Hiroshima marks 75 years since atomic bombing in scaled-back ceremony

By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) – Bells tolled in Hiroshima on Thursday for the 75th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing, with ceremonies downsized due to the coronavirus and the city’s mayor urging nations to reject selfish nationalism and unite to fight all threats.

Though thousands usually pack the Peace Park in the center of the Japanese city to pray, sing and offer paper cranes as a symbol of peace, entrance was sharply limited and only survivors and their families could attend the memorial ceremony.

The city said the significance of the anniversary of the bombing that killed 140,000 people before the end of 1945 had prompted its decision to hold the ceremony despite the spread of the virus, but taking strict precautions.

“On August 6, 1945, a single atomic bomb destroyed our city. Rumor at the time had it that ‘Nothing will grow here for 75 years,'” said mayor Kazumi Matsui.

“And yet, Hiroshima recovered, becoming a symbol of peace.”

At 8:15 a.m. on Aug 6, 1945, U.S. B-29 warplane Enola Gay dropped a bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” and obliterated the city with an estimated population of 350,000, where thousands more died later from injuries and radiation-related illnesses.

On Thursday, as cicadas shrilled in the heavy summer heat and the Peace Bell sounded, the crowd stood to observe a moment of silence at the exact time the bomb exploded.

“When the 1918 flu pandemic attacked a century ago, it took tens of millions of lives and terrorized the world because nations fighting World War I were unable to meet the threat together,” Matsui added.

“A subsequent upsurge in nationalism led to World War Two and the atomic bombings. We must never allow this painful past to repeat itself. Civil society must reject self-centered nationalism and unite against all threats.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended as usual, but the number of foreign visitors was down. Overall attendance was scaled back to less than a tenth of the usual figure, with chairs spaced far apart and most people wearing masks.

Matsui urged Japan to ratify a 2017 United Nations pact banning nuclear arms, but Abe avoided any direct reference, saying Japan would “work as a bridge between nations” to abolish nuclear weapons.

Keiko Ogura, who was eight when the bomb blast knocked her off her feet, has dedicated her life to working for peace.

“The nuclear danger is spreading around the world, and under that mushroom cloud, no one can escape,” she told a recent news conference.

The anniversary was a top trending topic on Japanese Twitter as most users offered prayers for world peace, although one drew a parallel with this week’s huge blast that killed at least 135 in Beirut, the Lebanese capital.

“I really hadn’t been able to imagine it before, but looking at the damage from the Beirut explosion and imagining something several times more powerful, I was struck with a huge sense of fear,” wrote the commenter, identified as “Sato-san.”

The bombing of Hiroshima was followed by the bombing of Nagasaki on Aug. 9, instantly killing more than 75,000 people. Japan surrendered six days later, ending World War Two.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Additional reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by Michael Perry and Clarence Fernandez)

In milestone year, A-bomb survivor keeps up fight for nuclear disarmament

By Akiko Okamoto

TOKYO (Reuters) – Terumi Tanaka was 13 when a U.S. warplane dropped a plutonium bomb on the southern Japanese city of Nagasaki, on Aug. 9, 1945.

Sitting at home with a book that morning, Tanaka knew instantly when his surroundings turned a blinding bright white that the massive boom was not one of the air raids he had gotten accustomed to in the waning days of World War Two.

“I felt this was something terrible, so I ran downstairs and ducked, covered my ears and closed my eyes,” Tanaka, now 88, told Reuters. “And at that moment, I lost consciousness.”

Just 3.2 km (2 miles) from the epicenter, Tanaka was miraculously unharmed, as were his mother and two sisters. Tanaka’s father had died of illness previously.

Tanaka’s grandfather, aunt and uncle weren’t as lucky.

Three days after the 10,000-pound (4,536kg) bomb, nicknamed “Fat Man,” exploded over the city, Tanaka ventured towards the epicenter to check on his relatives.

It was only then that the scale of the calamity sank in.

Buildings in the city had been reduced to charred piles of rubble and twisted metal, a vast expanse of land was wiped out, and corpses and burn victims with flesh peeling off their bones littered the ground. His grandfather was one of them: Tanaka dabbed a wet handkerchief to his mouth, which appeared to silently cry out for water. That was their last encounter.

Three days after the atomic bomb attack in Hiroshima, the Nagasaki blast killed about 27,000 instantly and more than 70,000 by the end of the year. Japan surrendered six days later.

For nearly 50 years, Tanaka has been speaking out for nuclear disarmament hoping that his experiences as a witness to one of the only two nuclear bombs ever to be used in conflict would serve to end their potential use.

In this 75th year since the war ended, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted some key events, such as a New York exhibition that Tanaka helped to organize.

Instead, Tanaka, who served as head of the “Hidankyo” victims’ group for more than 20 years, has turned online to spread his message, with the unexpected benefit of reaching a broader audience.

But he worries that time is running out.

“After all the atomic bomb survivors are gone, I’m worried whether people will be able to really understand what we have experienced,” he said.

(Reporting by Akiko Okamoto; Writing by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Karishma Singh)

North Korea conducts fifth and largest nuclear test, drawing broad condemnation

South Korean emergency meeting

* Test seen as North’s most powerful yet

* Japan protests, sends jets to monitor for radiation

* China begins emergency radiation testing

* South accuses North of “maniacal recklessness”

* UN Security Council to hold closed-door meeting Friday –

(Adds UN, CTBTO estimate, further condemnations)

By Ju-min Park and Jack Kim

SEOUL, Sept 9 (Reuters) – North Korea conducted its fifth
and biggest nuclear test on Friday and said it had mastered the
ability to mount a warhead on a ballistic missile, ratcheting up
a threat that its rivals and the United Nations have been
powerless to contain.

The blast, on the 68th anniversary of North Korea’s
founding, was more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima,
according to some estimates, and drew condemnation from the
United States as well as China, Pyongyang’s main ally.

Diplomats said the United Nations Security Council would
discuss the test at a closed-door meeting on Friday, at the
request of the United States, Japan and South Korea.

Under 32-year-old dictator Kim Jong Un, North Korea has
accelerated the development of its nuclear and missile
programmes, despite U.N. sanctions that were tightened in March
and have further isolated the impoverished country.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, in Laos after a summit
of Asian leaders, said Kim was showing “maniacal recklessness”
in completely ignoring the world’s call to abandon his pursuit
of nuclear weapons.

U.S. President Barack Obama, aboard Air Force One on his way
home from Laos, said the test would be met with “serious
consequences”, and held talks with Park and with Japanese Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe, the White House said.

China said it was resolutely opposed to the test and urged
Pyongyang to stop taking any actions that would worsen the
situation. It said it would lodge a protest with the North
Korean embassy in Beijing.

There were further robust condemnations from Russia, the
European Union, NATO, Germany and Britain.

North Korea, which labels the South and the United States as
its main enemies, said its “scientists and technicians carried
out a nuclear explosion test for the judgment of the power of a
nuclear warhead,” according to its official KCNA news agency.

It said the test proved North Korea was capable of mounting
a nuclear warhead on a medium-range ballistic missile, which it
last tested on Monday when Obama and other world leaders were
gathered in China for a G20 summit.

Pyongyang’s claims of being able to miniaturise a nuclear
warhead have never been independently verified.

Its continued testing in defiance of sanctions presents a
challenge to Obama in the final months of his presidency and
could become a factor in the U.S. presidential election in
November, and a headache to be inherited by whoever wins.

“Sanctions have already been imposed on almost everything
possible, so the policy is at an impasse,” said Tadashi Kimiya,
a University of Tokyo professor specialising in Korean issues.

“In reality, the means by which the United States, South
Korea and Japan can put pressure on North Korea have reached
their limits,” he said.


North Korea has been testing different types of missiles at
an unprecedented rate this year, and the capability to mount a
nuclear warhead on a missile is especially worrisome for its
neighbours South Korea and Japan.

“The standardisation of the nuclear warhead will enable the
DPRK to produce at will and as many as it wants a variety of
smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of higher
strike power,” KCNA said, referring to the country’s formal
name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

It was not clear whether Pyongyang had notified Beijing or
Moscow of its planned nuclear test. Senior officials from
Pyongyang were in both capitals this week.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she
had no information to provide when asked if China had advance
warning of the test, and would not be drawn on whether China
would support tougher sanctions against its neighbour.

Although Beijing has criticised North Korea’s nuclear and
missile tests, it has repeatedly expressed anger since the
United States and South Korea decided in July to deploy the
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system
in the South.

China calls THAAD a threat to its own security and will do
nothing to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table on
its nuclear programme.

Preliminary data collected by the Vienna-based Comprehensive
Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), which monitors
nuclear tests around the world, indicates the magnitude – around
5 – of the seismic event detected in North Korea on Friday was
greater than a previous one in January.

Jeffrey Lewis of the California-based Middlebury Institute
of International Studies said the highest estimates of seismic
magnitude suggested this was North Korea’s most powerful nuclear
test so far.

He said the seismic magnitude and surface level indicated a
blast with a 20- to 30-kilotonne yield. Such a yield would make
this test larger than the nuclear bomb dropped by the United
States on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in World War Two.

“That’s the largest DPRK test to date, 20-30kt, at least.
Not a happy day,” Lewis told Reuters.

South Korea’s military put the force of the blast at 10
kilotonnes, which would still be the North’s most powerful
nuclear blast to date.

“The important thing is, that five tests in, they now have a
lot of nuclear test experience. They aren’t a backwards state
any more,” Lewis said.

(Reporting by Jack Kim, Ju-min Park, James Pearson, Se Young
Lee, Nataly Pak, and Yun Hwan Chae in SEOUL; Additional
reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING, Kaori Kaneko and Linda
Sieg in TOKYO, Kirsti Knolle in VIENNA and Eric Beech and
Michelle Nichols in WASHINGTON; Writing by Tony Munroe; Editing
by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Ian Geoghegan)