G8 Speakers express determination to abolish nuclear weapons

by Hiromasa Nagata and Hiromi Morita, Staff Writers

The G8 Summit of Lower House Speakers, convened for the first time in Japan, was held at the International Conference Center Hiroshima on September 2. At the meeting, nine participants from eight nations and the European Union, among them four nuclear weapons states, shared their views on peace, disarmament, and other issues. At a press conference held after the summit, Yohei Kono, Speaker of the House of Representatives, who served as the host for the meeting, summarized the discussion and remarked, “We are determined to abolish nuclear weapons to realize a peaceful world.” Speaker Kono also called for the political leaders of the world to visit the A-bombed city.

Amid Japan’s political shakeup, in the wake of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda’s abrupt announcement to resign, the meeting was held as scheduled. The participants included the speakers from Japan, the U.S., Russia, the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Canada, and the First Vice-President of the European Parliament. In the first session, under the theme of “The Role of Parliaments for Peace and Disarmament,” voices called for adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In the second session, participants discussed issues related to the topic of “Decision-making in Bicameral Parliaments.” The meeting was closed to the public.

Before the first session began, the nine participants visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, where the summit venue was located. Among the participants was Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Hiroshima to date. The speakers laid flowers before the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims and, afterwards, spontaneously joined hands. They also visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, where they listened to the account of an A-bomb survivor.

The G8 Speakers’ Summit has been held every autumn in the nation which hosts the G8 Summit. At the request of Speaker Kono, holding the meeting in the A-bombed city of Hiroshima was brought to fruition.

(Originally published on September 3, 2008)