"Hiroshima Conference for the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons by 2020" opens

by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer

On July 28, the "Hiroshima Conference for the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons by 2020," an event co-sponsored by Mayors for Peace and the City of Hiroshima, opened at the International Conference Center Hiroshima in downtown Hiroshima.

The participants that have gathered in the A-bombed city of Hiroshima, including those from local and national governments and NGOs, are discussing how to take advantage of the outcome of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation (NPT) Review Conference to proceed with the pursuit of nuclear abolition.

Nearly 200 people, including about 30 participants from abroad, are taking part in the conference.

In a session on the topic of "Strategic Implications of the NPT Review," calls for the start of negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention, which has been advocated by international NGOs and other entities, were made one after another.

Tim Wright, a representative from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), said, "It's time for people everywhere to take control of the disarmament process, to shift the focus from non-proliferation to abolition…It's time to outlaw nuclear weapons…" Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue stressed, "To pursue the potential of a nuclear weapons convention, that is the next idea, the next action that is demanded of us."

In the opening ceremony, a message from U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon, who will attend the Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6, was read. In his message he stated: "If the mayors of the world are uniting, the world is uniting." In the "Grassroots Activity Session," such citizens' groups of Hiroshima as the "Yes! Campaign" were introduced.

Douglas Roche, former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament, who delivered a keynote speech entitled "A Nuclear Weapons Convention: The Time Is Now," was presented the Hiroshima City Special Honorary Citizenship Award from Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba. The number of participants for the day was less than the advance registrations due to such factors as the difficulty of obtaining visas for some from Iraq and Uganda.

The conference will close on July 29 after issuing a "Hiroshima Appeal."

(Originally published on July 29, 2010)

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