Prospect of new arms-reduction treaty raises hopes in Hiroshima for abolition

by Hiromi Morita, Staff Writer

The joint statement released by the U.S. and Russia on April 1, which calls for establishing a new treaty to reduce their stockpiles of strategic nuclear warheads, has raised the hopes of A-bomb survivors and peace proponents in Hiroshima for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Future negotiations between the two nations, where it remains to be seen whether specific steps leading to the elimination of their nuclear arsenals can be crafted, will be watched closely by the A-bombed city.

“Prospects are bright,” said Kota Kiya, secretary general of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organization. “I hope they produce a treaty that will lead to the total abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020.” Mr. Kiya visited Russia in March 2008 and spoke there about his experience of the atomic bombing.

“I hope the treaty serves as a concrete step forward to total abolition,” said Yukio Yoshioka, secretary general of another faction of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organization.

While Kazumi Mizumoto, associate professor of international politics at Hiroshima Peace Institute, Hiroshima City University, acknowledged the international trend toward nuclear disarmament, he also expressed some concern. “If both nations act only in their own interest on such issues as missile defense and North Korea,” he said, “their negotiations will wind up as little more than political posturing.”

Steven Leeper, chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, remarked, “The gradual reduction of nuclear weapons by the two countries will ultimately be fruitless if it is based on the premise that both nations can continue to possess them.” Added Mr. Leeper, who has been carrying out a vision of holding A-bomb exhibitions nationwide in the U.S., “Unless the two countries set a specific timeline for their reductions and make a clear commitment to it, other nuclear nations will not be persuaded to eliminate their own weapons.”

“To ensure that this momentum toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons continues, further leadership from the U.S. and Russia is vital,” commented Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, chairman of the worldwide network of mayors called Mayors for Peace.

(Originally published on April 3, 2009)

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