G8 Speakers discuss “The Role of Parliaments for Peace and Disarmament”

by Hiromasa Nagata, Staff Writer

The G8 Summit of Lower House Speakers, held for the first time in Japan, opened at the International Conference Center Hiroshima in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on the morning of September 2. Against the backdrop of the A-bombed city, the leaders of the legislatures, including four nuclear powers, began the first session with the theme “The Role of Parliaments for Peace and Disarmament.”

Amid the political shakeup in Japan, triggered by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda’s abrupt announcement to resign, the meeting proceeded as scheduled. The G8 Speakers’ Summit includes the speakers from Japan, the U.S., Russia, the U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Canada, as well as a guest participant, the First Vice-President of the European Parliament.

Ahead of the first session, the participants, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the U.S., visited the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. After a commemorative photo was taken, the meeting began at 9:50 am at the International Conference Center Hiroshima. At the outset, Yohei Kono, speaker of the House of Representatives, who had proposed Hiroshima as a venue, addressed the participants, “I offer you my welcome to Hiroshima. I call for discussion on our role for advancing Peace and Disarmament.”

Following the keynote presentation by Bernard Accoyer, president of the National Assembly of France, a nuclear power, the speakers shared their views freely at the first session of the gathering, which was held behind closed doors.

Following a luncheon hosted by the city of Hiroshima, the theme for discussion at the second session, to be held in the afternoon, is “Decision-making in Bicameral Parliaments.” After the meeting is adjourned, Speaker Kono will summarize the proceedings of the summit at a press conference. The delegation is scheduled to proceed to Miyajima Island, located about 20 kilometers west of the city, to visit Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage site.

Since 2002, the G8 Speakers’ Summit has been held every autumn in the nation which hosts the G8 Summit. This is the seventh meeting of G8 Speakers.

(Originally published on September 2, 2008)