Hiroshima Prefecture moves to launch group for promotion of world without nuclear weapons as UN goal following conclusion of current SDGs framework

by Fumiyasu Miyano, Staff Writer

On January 5, it was learned that the Hiroshima Prefectural government will work to create a group of Japanese and overseas non-governmental organizations (NGO) designed to encourage the United Nations to set as its goal the realization of a world without nuclear weapons by 2045, the 100th anniversary of the atomic bombings. The current UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are set to expire in 2030. The prefecture group will aim to lead deliberations surrounding the next set of UN goals and build consensus around those objectives among nuclear weapon states and other nations.

According to several people involved, overseas and other organizations have shown a willingness to join the new group, which is to be established in the first half of fiscal 2022. The group will foster debate from the viewpoint that nuclear weapons represent an obstacle to human survival and will call on the UN to position the elimination of nuclear weapons as a goal following conclusion of the SDGs framework. The prefecture also visualizes the group obtaining qualifications that would allow it to participate in UN conferences.

Prior to establishment of the group, the prefectural government reframed the theme of elimination of nuclear weapons to reflect the perspective of sustainability. Specifically, it defined nuclear weapons as “a threat to all efforts made to attain the SDGs because once used, the weapons destroy the earth’s environmental, social, and economic foundations.” Based on that concept, the prefecture hopes to gain support from organizations involved in tackling environmental and human rights issues, as well as from groups raising the banner for elimination of nuclear weapons.

The framework of the Hiroshima Initiative, announced by the prefecture in February 2021, calls for reaching an international agreement on the abolition of nuclear weapons among UN member nations including nuclear weapon states by 2030. To promote this initiative, the Hiroshima Organization for Global Peace (HOPe) was established locally through a partnership between public and private sectors. Kunihiko Shimada, whose career includes a wealth of international experience, was appointed to conduct negotiations with other national governments and NGOs. Establishment of the new group imagined this time hints at the prefecture’s intent to exert regional influence on international politics.

The UN adopted the SDGs framework at a UN leaders summit of member nations in 2015 as a successor to its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Full-scale deliberations surrounding establishment of a set of goals following conclusion of the SDGs are likely to take place around 2025. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has set the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons as a pillar of his disarmament agenda, announced in 2018, which urges nuclear weapon states to move forward with reducing their nuclear weapons stockpiles.

(Originally published on January 6, 2022)