Mayors for Peace national assembly closes with decision to adopt document urging Japan to ratify nuclear ban treaty

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

The general assembly of Japanese member cities of Mayors for Peace (for which Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui serves as president), held in Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture, has ended its two-day meeting. Before closing the meeting on November 6, the participants decided to submit a document to the Japanese government calling for the nation to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This is the first time that Mayors for Peace has called on the Japanese government to ratify the nuclear weapons ban treaty.

The petition letter issued to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stresses that actions running counter to the aim of abolishing nuclear weapons, such as the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, are now occurring worldwide. The letter calls on the Japanese government to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons because A-bomb survivors have long desired for all nations to come together to ban nuclear arms.

On November 1, at the First Committee (on disarmament and international security) of the U.N. General Assembly, the Japanese government rejected a resolution to promote the ratification of the nuclear weapons ban treaty. Mr. Matsui, who proposed the submission of the petition letter at the Mayors for Peace general assembly, explained his reason for proposing the letter by saying that if the government would like to serve as a bridge between the nuclear nations and non-nuclear nations, it should take an approach in which the government adopts policies in line with the wish of the A-bomb survivors.

At a press interview that took place after the meeting, Tomihisa Taue, the vice-president of Mayors for Peace, talked about the United States abstaining from, rather than supporting, Japan’s draft resolution presented to the First Committee calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, and said, “It has become more difficult for the Japanese government to be able to bridge the gap between the nuclear powers and the non-nuclear states. I’d like to insist, to the Japanese government, on our stance of developing the nuclear weapons ban treaty into an international standard.”

Hidehiko Yuzaki, the governor of Hiroshima Prefecture, expressed the prefectural goal of achieving a nuclear-free world by 2045. With regard to this, Mr. Matsui said, “The vision of Mayors for Peace is to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020. But both Hiroshima City and Hiroshima Prefecture are heading in the same direction to achieve this aim.” Mr. Taue said, “Although we would like to eliminate all nuclear weapons while the A-bomb survivors are still alive, I recognize that the achievement of that goal is becoming more and more difficult. We have to engage in discussions about a new vision.”

The two-day general assembly was attended by 148 people from 91 municipalities and included 39 mayors and governors.

(Originally published on November 7, 2018)