Member cities of Mayors for Peace exceed 3,000

by Uzaemonnaotsuka Tokai, Staff Writer

It was revealed on July 24 that the membership of Mayors for Peace (Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, president), an organization which advocates the abolition of nuclear weapons by the year 2020, has topped 3,000. It seems that the change in world public opinion on nuclear abolition, following the inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama, has been a boost to membership.

According to the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, which serves as the secretariat office for the organization, membership has grown from 2,963 cities, as of July 1, 2009, to 3,037 cities from 134 countries and regions, as of July 24, 2009. Since President Obama took office this January, 501 new cities have become members. To date, the year 2005 had a record increase of 601 cities, but at the current pace, this year might see an even bigger surge in membership.

In a speech delivered in Prague this past April, President Obama declared his intention to work for “a world without nuclear weapons,” a pledge that has created repercussions around the world. The secretariat office of Mayors for Peace said that the rapid growth in membership represents the international community’s high hopes for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Mayor Akiba and others have urged non-member cities in Japan to join the organization in the run-up to its general conference, which will open in Nagasaki on August 8. This effort is reportedly another reason for the increase. From this point forward, Mayors for Peace plans to more actively solicit the membership of cities in the U.S. and China, nations which possess nuclear weapons and hold strong influence over international politics.

Mayors for Peace was founded in 1982 by the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After the organization announced the “2020 Vision” in 2003, an initiative to abolish nuclear weapons by the year 2020, membership began to grow more rapidly. As of July 1, 2009, the three countries with the most member cities are Belgium with 336 cities, Germany with 315, and Italy with 304.

(Originally published on July 25, 2009)

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