September 2, 2008

Japan: G-8 Members Discuss Peace, Arms Reduction in Hiroshima

Text of report in English by Japan's largest news agency Kyodo

Hiroshima, 2 September: Lower house speakers of the Group of Eight countries met Tuesday [2 September] in Hiroshima to discuss issues such as the role of parliament in promoting peace and reducing arms around the world.

Participants also discussed decision-making in a bicameral legislature, touching on the situation involving a divided parliament in which each of the two houses is controlled by opposing political groups.

Japanese House of Representatives Speaker Yohei Kono delivered a speech concerning the main topics of the meeting, followed by keynote presentations from his French and Italian counterparts before proceeding to a free discussion session.

It is the first time Japan has hosted the annual conference that was started in 2002. Hiroshima was chosen under the prodding of Kono as a means to underscore the efforts by Japan, the only country ever to endure atomic bombing, to achieve world peace such as by abolishing nuclear arms.

The United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, in August 1945.

Kono is expected to announce a summary statement at a press conference after the meeting.

Earlier Tuesday, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid a floral tribute at a monument at Hiroshima Peace Park with other G-8 speakers, becoming the highest incumbent US official to visit a city hit by atomic bombing.

Pelosi is next in line to the vice president in succession of the US presidency in case of emergency. Former US President Jimmy Carter visited Hiroshima, but after leaving office.

Akihiro Takahashi, former president of the Peace Memorial Museum, described to Pelosi and others the aftermath of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, showing disfigured fingernails from the bombing that he donated to the museum.

"Dropping an atomic bomb violates international law and is unforgivable but I think we have to overcome the feeling of hatred," said Takahashi, 77. "I hope all nuclear states will eliminate nuclear weapons at the earliest possible date."

The G-8 consists of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Originally published by Kyodo News Service, Tokyo, in English 0454 2 Sep 08.

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