Former state leaders to discuss nuclear abolition in Hiroshima this April

by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer

The InterAction Council consisting of former state leaders and others will hold its 28th Annual Plenary Meeting for three days from April 18 to 20 in Hiroshima. About 50 people from 27 countries, including disarmament experts, will discuss a path toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.

The planned participants include Ingvar Carlsson, former prime minister of Sweden, Jean Chrétien, former prime minister of Canada, and Seyed Mohammad Khātamī, former president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. From Japan, Yasuo Fukuda and Tomiichi Murayama, former prime ministers of Japan, will take part.

The opening ceremony will be held at the International Conference Center Hiroshima and Malcolm Fraser, former prime minister of Australia, will deliver the keynote speech. A special address will also be given by Sam Nunn, former senator of the United States, who called for a world free of nuclear weapons in The Wall Street Journal along with three other former high-ranking U.S. officials. Prior to the opening ceremony, the participants will visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and listen to the testimony of an atomic bomb survivor.

On the second and third day, they will move to a different location to conduct closed-door meetings to exchange views. They will conclude the gathering by adopting a "Hiroshima Declaration." The declaration will also serve as a proposal to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference slated for this May, and will be sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and governments around the world.

The InterAction Council was first held in 1983 in response to a proposal made by Takeo Fukuda, former prime minister of Japan. Since then, meetings have been held in turn in different countries. This will be the fourth meeting in Japan and the first time in Hiroshima, which is marking the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing this year.

(Originally published on February 1, 2010)