Mayors for Peace conference opens in Hiroshima to act in concert under Russian nuclear threat

by Kana Kobayashi, Staff Writer

The general conference of Mayors for Peace, an organization with about 8,000 member cities from around the world, opened at the International Conference Center Hiroshima in the city’s Naka Ward on October 19, commemorating the 40th year of its establishment. This is the first conference in five years, and 113 cities from 21 countries, including those participating online, took part. While Russia repeats making nuclear threat after invading Ukraine, the organization will confirm that members will act in concert toward a world without nuclear weapons. The conference will close on October 20.

At the conference venue were about 160 people: about 140 from 85 cities, towns and villages in Japan, and 20 from eight cities in eight other countries. Twenty cities from 14 countries attended the conference online. On the first day, the secretariat was not able to confirm the attendance of Volgograd, the only one of the 67 cities in Russia that had applied. All five member cities in Ukraine did not apply to participate.

During the opening event, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, who serves as the organization’s president, referred to the situation in Ukraine, where the concern is growing about the use of nuclear weapons, saying, “We must take action to stop a move which will lead to a critical situation.” In a video message, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the world was at a crisis point where the painful lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would be forgotten, but that we must not give up.

The conference decided to establish a supporter system for young people. As to the election of executive cities, three overseas cities, including Volgograd, which has served as a vice president city since 1987, did not wish to keep their positions as their terms expired on October 19.

The participants also listened to the A-bomb experience of Toshiko Kajimoto, 91, of Nishi Ward, Hiroshima, and presentations on peace activities by member cities. On October 20, the Hiroshima Appeal for the elimination of nuclear weapons will be adopted.

The general meeting is normally held once every four years, but this is the first Hiroshima meeting in nine years owing to the postponement due to the new coronavirus pandemic.


Mayors for Peace
In June 1982, the World Conference of Mayors for Peace through Intercity Solidarity was established by then Hiroshima and Nagasaki mayors at the proposal of Takeshi Araki, then Hiroshima Mayor. In 2001, the organization changed its name to Mayors for Peace. In 2013, its Japanese name was changed to include all the heads of local governments. Hiroshima’s mayor has been acting as its president. As of October 1, 2022, it had a membership of 8,213 cities in 166 countries and regions.

(Originally published on October 20, 2022)