August 6 amid pandemic: Hiroshima mayor intends to use strong language related to nuclear weapons ban treaty

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

On July 14, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui indicated his desire to use stronger language in this year’s Peace Declaration than was used last year to describe the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which has become a focus of the declaration. At a recent meeting of a consultative committee regarding the declaration, Mr. Matsui stressed, “I want to act on the opinions expressed that it would be desirable to use language that can further raise expectations on the Japanese national government for its support of the treaty.”

According to those involved, committee participants decided to use the expression “A-bomb survivors’ requests” in this year’s Peace Declaration draft, just as in previous years, to position successful conclusion of the nuclear weapons ban treaty as a condition for Japan, the country that experienced the atomic bombings. The Peace Declaration will also urge the Japanese government to play a role in broadening support from people throughout the world for the nuclear weapons ban treaty.

In the 2019 Peace Declaration, the mayor called on the Japanese government to accept the “A-bomb survivors’ request that the TPNW be signed and ratified.” However, some among A-bomb survivors’ groups and anti-nuclear organizations have since asked the mayor to make the appeal to the government using his own words.

Against this backdrop, some members of this year’s consultative committee said it would be desirable to further increase expectations vis-a-vis the government. After meeting with the committee, Mr. Matsui indicated he would use stronger language than last year and that the idea had received support in the committee meeting.

At this year’s 75th Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the number of seats for participants will be reduced by 90 percent compared with that of previous years, limiting the seating capacity to a maximum of 880 attendees. Mr. Matsui said that the significance of this year’s Peace Declaration will be greater than ever, adding “Nuclear weapons and the coronavirus both are threats to humanity, and therefore we all have to work together to overcome them. I hope to prepare a declaration that can achieve consensus among everyone regarding our future direction.”

(Originally published on July 15, 2020)