Mayors for Peace tops 5,000 member cities, has appealed for nuclear abolition for over 29 years

by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer

On September 16, Mayors for Peace, for which Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui serves as president, announced that the number of its member cities has topped 5,000. Since being launched 29 years ago, Mayors for Peace has appealed for the elimination of nuclear weapons by establishing a network of cities that is free of national frameworks. In this time, the organization has continued to grow and its membership has reached a total of 5,003 cities.

In June 1982, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki inaugurated “The World Conference of Mayors for Peace through Intercity Solidarity,” the forerunner of Mayors for Peace, following a proposal by the late Takeshi Araki, then mayor of Hiroshima. In 2001, the organization changed its name to “Mayors for Peace.”

A series of Hiroshima mayors have served successively as president. Under two mayors, Mr. Araki and his successor Takashi Hiraoka, the number of member cities remained at 464. During the three terms served by Tadatoshi Akiba, who succeeded Mr. Hiraoka, the number rapidly increased over those 12 years to more than 4,500 cities.

The secretariat of Mayors for Peace is located at the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, an organization affiliated with the City of Hiroshima. The mayors of 13 cities in 12 nations, including the mayors of Nagasaki and Hannover, Germany, serve as the vice presidents of Mayors for Peace.

In 2003, Mayors for Peace launched the 2020 Vision Campaign with the aim of realizing a nuclear weapons convention and the elimination of nuclear weapons by the year 2020. In 2006, it established an international secretariat for this campaign in Ypres, Belgium.

Mayors for Peace has also issued the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol, which articulates a road map for achieving the goals of the 2020 Vision. The organization sought to have the protocol adopted at the review conference for the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2010, but this hope was not fulfilled.

Member cities come from as many as 151 nations and regions. The largest number of members are in Europe, with 2,295 cities. In Asia, 1,492 cities have joined the organization. In the United States, the nation which dropped the atomic bombs, 188 cities are now members of Mayors for Peace. Major cities listed as members include London, England; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Bangkok, Thailand.

In a statement, Mr. Matsui said: “Mayors for Peace continues to make efforts to increase its membership with the goal of concluding a nuclear weapons convention at the earliest possible date.”

(Originally published on September 17, 2011)