Hiroshima City Council approves "proposals" related to Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol

by Uzaemonnaotsuka Tokai and Osamu Kido, Staff Writers

On December 18, a package of proposals aimed at having the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol adopted at the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference was approved by a majority at a plenary session during a regular meeting of the Hiroshima City Council. With a few factions opposing the package--critics of the political stance of Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba--the measure was not unanimously approved. Some atomic bomb survivors (hibakusha) expressed disappointment at the lack of unity.

The NPT Review Conference will be held in New York next May. The package of proposals calls on the Japanese government to 1) agree with the contents of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol, which provides a road map toward the elimination of nuclear weapons by 2020, 2) propose the protocol as a subject for discussion at the NPT Review Conference, and 3) work to persuade each nation so that the protocol will be adopted at the conference.

Of the nine factions constituting the city council, six proposed the package. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Shinsei Club with ten members, the largest faction in the city council, along with the Hiroshima Seiwa Club with nine members, opposed the package.

Tokukazu Kiyama, secretary general of the Shinsei Club, explained, "The city council has not received adequate explanation regarding the consideration of a bid to host the Olympic Games and the issue of the site of the former Hiroshima Municipal Stadium. We opposed the measure to express the feeling that we cannot accept the mayor's political stance." Haruo Yamada, secretary general of the Seiwa Club, argued that, "As the elimination of nuclear weapons by 2020 is difficult in reality, it's unreasonable to seek the government's approval for this aim."

On December 11, the Nagasaki City Council unanimously approved a package of proposals to the same effect. Kenji Ota, secretary general of the Citizens' Coalition, which allowed its name to be added as a proponent of the package at the Hiroshima City Council, deplored the outcome, saying, "Emotional entanglements with the mayor and the value judgment from the standpoint of the assembly should be two different things. Are they truly representing the voices of the many citizens who are seeking nuclear abolition?"

Hiroshima Mayor Akiba, Hiroshima City Council Chair Hiroyuki Fujita, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue, and Nagasaki City Council Chair Takashi Yoshihara will hand the written statement of the package of proposals to Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and others on December 21. Sunao Tsuboi, 84, chair of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations and co-chairperson of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-bomb Sufferers Organizations, commented, "The elimination of nuclear weapons is Hiroshima's long-cherished wish. I wish the Hiroshima City Council had unanimously approved the proposals."

On the other hand, the Hiroshima Prefectural Assembly agreed, at the assembly steering committee on December 18, to pass a resolution in pursuit of nuclear abolition and a lasting peace on December 22, the last day of the current regular meeting. The prefectural assembly is dealing with a resolution for the abolition of nuclear weapons for the first time in 11 years. The resolution has been proposed by the LDP Sasshin Cuncil, the largest faction in the assembly, in anticipation of the NPT Review Conference. It is expected that the resolution will be unanimously approved.


The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol

Mayors for Peace, for which Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba serves as president, proposed the protocol in April 2008. The protocol provides concrete steps toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, proposing 1) an immediate end to actions that will lead non-nuclear weapon states to acquire nuclear weapons and nuclear weapon states to use these weapons, 2) demanding nuclear weapon states begin negotiations to reach an agreement on an international framework in pursuit of nuclear abolition, 3) making legislative preparations banning actions by 2015 that will lead to acquisition and use of nuclear weapons, and 4) formulating a concrete plan to realize nuclear abolition by 2020.

(Originally published on December 19, 2009)

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