Hiroshima mayor and governor welcome the pope’s visit, with the hope that Hiroshima citizens’ wishes of nuclear abolition will be more understood

(by Aya Kano and Koji Higuchi, Staff Writers)

On September 13, it was formally announced Pope Francis would visit Hiroshima. The same day, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui and Hiroshima Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki, who had called for the visit, expressed their welcome once again. Both Mr. Matsui and Mr. Yuzaki shared their expectation that momentum for nuclear abolition could be accelerated among people and policymakers after the pope delivers his message of peace.

In November of 2017, Mr. Matsui met with the pope, and provided to him a letter jointly signed by Nagasaki mayor Tomihisa Taue. In it, they asked the pope to visit the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Having previously witnessed an occasion of the pope’s general audience where people gathered from around the globe to carefully listen to his words, Mr. Matsui said, “The pope will give a message in Hiroshima which will be supported by many people. If global policymakers then recognize how strongly people endorse the Pope’s message, I believe they must consider these to be the true wishes of Hiroshima’s citizens. I hope Pope Francis will connect with the citizens of Hiroshima as well as A-bomb survivors.”

Mr. Yuzaki, who also met with the pope in May of 2017, stressed, “I believe the pope is strongly determined in his regard for the abolition of nuclear weapons. He has great presence as a person, and is respected by others regardless of any differences in religion.” Regarding the possible regression of nuclear disarmament talks, particularly given the lapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and Russia in August this year, he said, “The Pope’s words will provide an opportunity for people throughout the world to think more about nuclear weapons. I would like the Pope to give us a powerful message in Hiroshima.”

Comment by Nagasaki Mayor, Tomihisa Taue: I expect the Pope will send a message suggesting to future generations that “Nagasaki should remain the last A-bombed place on earth,” and that he will strengthen his push for elimination of nuclear weapons. When the Pope distributed a photo of an A-bombed boy standing at a crematorium carrying his dead brother, the message, inscribed with the words “the fruit of war,” raised alarm across the world, and encouraged people who want a world without nuclear weapons. I also hope he will refer to the values of Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region, too.

(Originally published on September 14, 2019)