Chancellor of Austria visits Hiroshima, vows to make efforts to increase ratifications of nuclear weapons ban treaty

(by Aya Kano, Staff Writer)

On February 16, Sebastian Kurz, the Chancellor of Austria, visited the Peace Memorial Park in Naka Ward, Hiroshima and conveyed his determination to make efforts to increase the number of countries ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Austria helped spearhead the adoption of the nuclear weapons ban treaty at the United Nations.

Guided by Yasuyoshi Komizo, the chairperson of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, Mr. Kurz toured the Peace Memorial Museum and looked at exhibits that included a computer graphics display that depicts the vast destruction to the city caused by the atomic bomb. After an approximately 30-minute tour of the museum, the Chancellor told reporters that what he saw saddened him deeply and that he was made fully aware of the destructive power of an atomic bomb. He added that he would do his utmost to ensure that the nuclear weapons ban treaty is recognized throughout the world. In the museum’s guestbook, he noted that he will fight for nuclear disarmament with A-bomb survivors.

Before visiting the museum, Mr. Kurz laid flowers at the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims, accompanied by Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui.

Mr. Kurz also visited Hiroshima Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki at the prefectural government office. In response to Mr. Yuzaki passing on his appreciation to Mr. Kurz, on behalf of the people of Hiroshima Prefecture, for Austria’s leadership in the adoption of the nuclear weapons ban treaty, the chancellor replied that he was extremely honored to visit Hiroshima, a city which shares the goal of nuclear disarmament and abolition.

Austria is one of the nations which played a leading role in promoting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted at the United Nations in 2017. Chancellor Kurz came to Japan because 2019 marks the 150th anniversary of friendly relations between Austria and Japan. This is his first trip to Japan since his inauguration in December 2017, and his visit to Hiroshima was arranged at his request.

(Originally published on February 17, 2019)