NGOs call on foreign ministry to provide opportunity for direct talks between A-bomb survivors and participants of NPDI foreign ministerial conference

by Junpei Fujimura, Staff Writer

On July 1, members of a liaison group comprised of antinuclear NGOs and organizations exchanged views with Kenta Wakabayashi, the parliamentary vice-minister for foreign affairs, and other officials of the foreign ministry. The members of the group requested that the ministry provide an opportunity for direct talks between citizens, including A-bomb survivors, and foreign ministers and other high officials taking part in the foreign ministerial conference of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), scheduled for next April in Hiroshima.

Representing nine organizations, 12 people attended the meeting, including Akira Kawasaki, executive committee member of Peace Boat, a Tokyo-based NGO, and Haruko Moritaki, co-chair of the Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition. They suggested that arrangements be made for the national government, the City of Hiroshima, and NGOs to work together to realize these direct talks.

Mr. Wakabayashi welcomed the “valuable proposal.” Referring to the fact that the ministerial conference will be held in the A-bombed city of Hiroshima, he stressed his hopes to deliver a message that will help people grasp the inhumanity of nuclear weapons.

Another subject brought up at the meeting was the Japanese government’s refusal to sign a joint statement against the use of nuclear weapons, which was submitted to the Second Preparatory Committee for the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference this past April. Regarding the Japanese government’s comment that it would give serious consideration to approving a similar statement in the future, Kensuke Yoshida, director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Division of the foreign ministry, remarked, “Diplomatic efforts have been made, but details can’t be disclosed at this time.”

(Originally published on July 2, 2013)