G8 Speakers moved by their experience of Hiroshima

by Hiromi Morita, Staff Writer

The G8 Summit of Lower House Speakers was held in Hiroshima on September 2. The meeting demonstrated the importance of influential political leaders visiting Hiroshima from nations abroad.

The participants included the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States and speakers from three other nuclear powers. The delegation visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum before the meeting began and listened to the testimony of an A-bomb survivor, a witness to the horror humanity would suffer if nuclear weapons are used. Although this encounter was relatively brief, the speakers revealed their feelings through the expressions on their faces as they listened to this account of the A-bomb destruction.

In the discussions that followed, the speakers voiced strong opinions supporting nuclear disarmament and the abolition of nuclear weapons. At a luncheon for the speakers, U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly told Yohei Kono, the Japanese speaker, that she could not thank him enough for proposing Hiroshima as the venue for the meeting.

Since the city was selected as the venue last year, Hiroshima officials negotiated with the House of Representatives until the last moment to refine the tight schedule so it would include opportunities for the participants to grasp the reality of the atomic bombing. On the day of the meeting, citizens and schoolchildren of Hiroshima gathered at Peace Memorial Park in the early morning, singing and waving flags, to greet the summit participants.

The enthusiastic welcome of the people of Hiroshima revealed their high hopes for the meeting, in which legislators at the helm of decision-making involving the nuclear policies of their nations took part. The discussions of the summit, though, were closed to the public, as they have been in the past. Since the details of these talks are not known, the public may not be entirely satisfied.

After the meeting, Speaker Kono expressed his resolve to realize a world without nuclear weapons and requested that more world leaders visit Hiroshima. If this comes to pass, it would be a welcome development amid the current international climate of escalating proliferation. If the speakers who touched the reality of the atomic bombing feel fresh determination to pursue actions leading to nuclear disarmament, the earnest wish of the citizens of Hiroshima, who welcomed the leaders to this city, will be fulfilled.

(Originally published on September 3, 2008)