Photo/Illutration Charles Michel, president of the European Council, speaks with reporters on May 13 after visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. (Jun Ueda)

HIROSHIMA--After visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on May 13, the European Council president criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin’s suggestion that he was prepared to use nuclear weapons as “shameful and unacceptable.”

“This city is a stark reminder of the urgency to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction,” said Charles Michel. 

In the statement he announced in Hiroshima, Michel said Putin’s reference to the possible use of nuclear weapons in the event NATO nations intervened on behalf of Ukraine “is not only shaking the security of Europe, it is dangerously raising the stakes for the whole world.”

He added the world’s leaders should have a proper understanding of history so they can make the right decisions about peace and national security.

Just prior to arriving in Japan, Michel visited Odesa, Ukraine, on May 9, where he had to temporarily seek refuge in a shelter because of a Russian attack while he was meeting with Ukrainian officials.

Michel spent about 30 minutes in the Hiroshima museum and signed the visitor’s book.

Speaking with reporters later, he said he held a deep feeling of sorrow and horror, adding nuclear weapons were the worst thing mankind has created. He added he would likely never forget what he saw at the museum.

While in Hiroshima, Michel also laid flowers at the Cenotaph for the Victims of the Atomic Bomb.

Michel later met with Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui and Keiko Ogura, 84, a survivor of the Aug. 6, 1945, atomic bombing of Hiroshima who has spoken about her experiences in English to foreign visitors to Hiroshima.

Michel’s predecessor, Donald Tusk, visited both Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2019.

Michel arrived in Japan along with Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and the two met with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on May 12.

The Hiroshima visit came about because Michel expressed a strong interest for it.