U.N. Conference on Disarmament Issues opens in Hiroshima, participants call for abolishing nuclear weapons and war

by Kyosuke Mizukawa and Yoshiaki Kido, Staff Writers

The United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues opened in Hiroshima on November 29. Concrete measures to realize a “world without nuclear weapons” will be discussed during this two-day conference held at the International Conference Center Hiroshima. Holding in mind the terrible devastation wrought by the atomic bombing, 55 participants, including diplomats and experts on nuclear disarmament from 12 countries and two institutions, are engaging in discussion. Their focus will be on efforts connected to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted this past July, and the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Izumi Nakamitsu, the U.N. Under Secretary General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, delivered a speech during the opening session. She expressed concern about the stagnation in the process of nuclear disarmament. But, calling the nuclear weapons ban treaty a historic achievement, she said that nuclear disarmament can move forward if the international community has a stronger will to advance this aim.

A-bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki also took the stage in the first session, under the theme of “messages from civil society.” Sunao Tsuboi, 92, the chair of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations, experienced the atomic bombing at a location about 1.2 kilometers from the hypocenter. He said, “The bomb killed men and women of all ages.” He expressed his hope that not only will nuclear weapons be abolished but also war itself, which brings killing on both sides. He concluded by saying, “I believe there should be no more war, and that should always be kept in mind as the ultimate goal.”

Linh Schroeder, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross Mission in Japan, stressed that civil society can contribute to helping more people understand the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons. In the session on disarmament and non-proliferation education, an American expert introduced a project in which high school students in the United States and Russia, both nuclear superpowers, are learning about the damage caused by the atomic bombings.

Later, the participants laid flowers at the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims in the Peace Memorial Park and toured the Peace Memorial Museum. They listened to the A-bomb experience of Yoshiko Kajimoto, 86, a survivor and a resident of Nishi Ward. On November 30, they will discuss the prospects of nuclear disarmament following the adoption of the nuclear weapons ban treaty. This conference, which is sponsored by the U.N. Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, is the fifth such conference held in Hiroshima, after an interval of two years.

(Originally published on November 30, 2017)