TOKYO (AFP) - Hiroshima will host Group of Seven foreign ministerial talks next year, Japan said on Friday, paving the way for the first visit by a sitting United States secretary of state to the atomic-bombed city.
Japan has chosen the regional commercial hub, destroyed by the world's first atomic bombing by American forces 70 years ago, as the location of the meeting, which brings together top diplomats from powerful nations, many of which possess nuclear arms.
"We think it would be a good opportunity for them to visit the site (of the bombing) after the meeting, and see for themselves what happened," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
Japan, a member of the G7, will host Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United States at a secluded retreat in Mie prefecture in May 2016. In the weeks leading up to the summit, a number of ministerial talks will take place in various cities across Japan, including the Hiroshima session for foreign ministers.
The industrial city was flattened by the United States on Aug 6, 1945, when a nuclear weapon detonated there, killing some 140,000 people.
The US dropped another atomic bomb in Nagasaki days later, killing 74,000 and dealing the final blow to Imperial Japan, which announced its surrender to the Allied Powers on Aug 15, 1945.
Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki have fully recovered since then but the increasingly elderly survivors still speak of the mental trauma caused by the bombing.
The site of the Hiroshima bombing has been turned into a peace memorial, with a museum vividly recounting the horror and destruction of the nuclear attack.
The highest sitting US official ever to visit modern Hiroshima is Ms Nancy Pelosi who, in 2008 as a House speaker, participated in a G8 meeting of legislative chiefs.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who is from Hiroshima, called his home city "a symbol of peace and hope".
"We believe it is a host city befitting as a location to pronounce our hope for world peace, prosperity and hope for the future," Mr Kishida said.