“Make Northeast Asia a nuclear weapons-free zone”

Signatures of 409 heads of municipalities submitted to Foreign Ministry

by Junpei Fujimura, Staff Writer

On June 3, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue, who chairs the National Council of Japan Nuclear Free Local Authorities, and Ichiro Yuasa, president of the Peace Depot, a non-profit organization based in Yokohama, visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to urge the national government to push forward the denuclearization of Northeast Asia, including North Korea. They submitted the signatures of 409 mayors of municipalities who support this cause. This signature drive was organized by the Peace Depot, and 36 heads of local governments in the Chugoku Region, including the city of Hiroshima, have signed.

Meeting privately with Masaji Matsuyama, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Taue and Yuasa argued that Japan, the nation that experienced the atomic bombings, is duty-bound to formulate security policies that do not depend on a nuclear umbrella and help build momentum toward a world without nuclear weapons.

After meeting the vice-minister, Mayor Taue commented, “I will gather more supporters and make this a powerful movement, and I will continue to press for action.”

This is the third time signatures have been submitted. Since the last submission in March 2012, the number of local governments submitting signatures grew by 120. In the Chugoku Region, 10 municipalities, including Miyoshi and Yanai, joined the movement.

Meanwhile, Mayor Taue sent letters to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida concerning a potential nuclear energy agreement with India. Japan and India recently agreed to resume negotiations on such an agreement, but Taue appealed to the government not to resume negotiations, saying that signing any agreement could make the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) an empty shell.

(Originally published on June 4, 2013)