Hiroshima mayor holds first meeting to discuss draft of Peace Declaration

by Takafumi Hatayama, Staff Writer

On May 26, the first meeting to discuss the draft for this year’s Peace Declaration was held at the International Conference Center Hiroshima in Naka Ward. The Peace Declaration will be read out by Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui on August 6, the anniversary of the atomic bombing. Eight people gathered for the meeting, including Mr. Matsui and seven experts and A-bomb survivors, and shared their thoughts about the speech, based on the current global conditions in which the actions of the nuclear weapon states seem to be running counter to nuclear disarmament efforts. Mr. Matsui, who is now in his third term as mayor, stressed that his declaration would again define the experiences of the A-bomb survivors as the starting point for nuclear abolition and urge the world’s political leaders to take action toward a world without nuclear weapons.

In his opening remarks at the meeting, Mr. Matsui condemned the recent acts involving nuclear weapons by some nuclear nations, including the announcements made by the United States and Russia that they will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and a subcritical nuclear test carried out by the United States. He said that Mayors for Peace, the organization for which he serves as president, had called for the establishment of a cooperative security framework at the Preparatory Committee for next year’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, which took place from late April until early May in New York. He said, “In my declaration, I would like to proclaim, with the support of Mayors for Peace, that all political leaders must have the courage to act for the realization of a world without nuclear weapons.”

The discussion at the meeting was then held behind closed doors. According to Mr. Matsui, who spoke with the media afterward, one of the participants expressed the view that the Peace Declaration needs to bridge the gap between the public and the Japanese government, because the government continues to stress the idea of nuclear deterrence even though the public wants nuclear weapons to be abolished. Mr. Matsui also mentioned that suggestions were made to include the words and experiences of people who have made accomplishments in their peace-related activities, and Japanese waka or haiku poems created by the A-bomb survivors to express their feelings. The next meeting of the group will take place in mid-June and mid-July.

(Originally published on May 27, 2019)