Lawmakers seek to attract more international organizations to Hiroshima

by Kazuhisa Yamanaka, Staff Writer

A group of lawmakers from various parties held its first discussion in the Diet Building on June 20 with a view to drawing UN and other international organizations to locate their operations in Japan, including the city of Hiroshima. The group’s aim is to attract international organizations that are involved in global issues, such as peace building and the non-proliferation and abolition of nuclear weapons.

Along with 16 lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties, from both Houses of the Diet, officials from the Tokyo offices of Hiroshima Prefecture and Hiroshima City attended the meeting. Hidenao Nakagawa, from Hiroshima’s 4th constituency and former secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party, remarked in his speech, “The G8 Summit will be held (at Lake Toya, Hokkaido) this year and the United Nations will mark its 65th anniversary in 2010. We should take this opportunity to elevate Japan’s mission of advancing peace by attracting and creating new organizations in such places as Hiroshima.”

Participants expressed their support for the group’s cause. Yukio Hatoyama, secretary-general of the Democratic Party, expressed enthusiastic support. Keiji Kokuta, Diet Affairs Committee chairperson of the Communist Party, said that Japan can play an important role in promoting peace in the world, particularly as it can campaign under the banner of “No More Hibakusha.”

The topics of discussion included relocating the offices of the 28 UN-related organizations currently resident in Japan to Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Okinawa. Also on the agenda was the idea of encouraging international conferences in Japan.

The group will make recommendations on the kind of international organization to invite and will seek the support of other countries at the G8 Summit of Lower House Speakers, to be held in Hiroshima in September. The group will also urge Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to formally announce the Japanese government’s support for this effort.

(Originally published on June 21, 2008)