Peace Declaration to include appeal for change in nation’s energy policy

by Kanako Noda, Staff Writer

On July 7, a committee formed by the City of Hiroshima held a meeting at Hiroshima City Hall to select experiences of the atomic bombing, which had been sought from A-bomb survivors, for inclusion in this year's Peace Declaration. At the meeting, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, the committee chair, expressed his desire to call on the central government to review the nation's energy policy, in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear power plant, and the members of the committee endorsed this idea. The city will propose a draft declaration to the committee at the next meeting, to be held on July 19.

The meeting was closed to the public. Attending the meeting were the committee’s ten members, including Sunao Tsuboi, chair of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations, and Koichiro Maeda, director of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

Following the meeting, Mr. Matsui and the other members of the committee spoke to the media. They said that the city had received accounts of A-bomb experiences and aspirations for peace from 73 A-bomb survivors, both in Japan and overseas. The committee members offered comments on the 19 writings that were recommended. These writings reportedly include descriptions which compare daily life before the atomic bombing with the grim conditions afterwards, as well as such experiences as the discrimination A-bomb survivors suffered in the post-war period from the people around them.

The mayor also sought input from the committee with regard to his belief that the declaration should include a passage which urges the central government to reassess its energy policy. One member voiced concern over the nation's reliance on nuclear power generation by quoting the words of the late Ichiro Moritaki, the first chair of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations: “Human beings and nuclear weapons cannot coexist.” The members of the committee were in agreement on the idea of including an appeal for a change in the nation's energy policy.

In formulating the Peace Declaration for the first time as mayor, Mr. Matsui shared his view, in May, of the importance of conveying the experiences of the atomic bombing to the next generation in order to widen the circle of understanding in the world. He thus decided to publicly solicit writings by A-bomb survivors to be quoted in the declaration. The City of Hiroshima accepted these writings about the atomic bombing from June 1 to June 20.

Following the next committee meeting, the mayor intends to draft the declaration himself. The committee, though, may hold further meetings to continue their discussions. Mr. Matsui said, “It was a very informative meeting, with the committee members voicing the view, which reflects Hiroshima's appeal, that nuclear weapons must be eliminated from the world.”

In addition to Mr. Matsui, Mr. Tsuboi, and Mr. Maeda, the members of the selection committee include: Seiko Ikeda, an A-bomb survivor who is active in relating her account of the bombing; Kazuyuki Iwakawa, director of the National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims; Shizuteru Usui, president of the Japan Chapter of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW); Tomoko Onishi, a writer; Masaaki Tanabe, a filmmaker; Terutomo Akiyama, director of the Broadcasting Division at NHK Hiroshima Station; and Noritaka Egusa, an editorial writer at the Chugoku Shimbun.

(Originally published on July 8, 2011)