Representatives from 189 cities set to take part in Mayors for Peace conference in Hiroshima

by Kohei Okata, Staff Writer

On July 19, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui outlined the General Conference of Mayors for Peace, scheduled to take place from August 3 to 6 at the International Conference Center Hiroshima. A total of 318 people will attend the gathering, including representatives from 189 cities in 22 nations (90 cities in 21 countries overseas and 99 cities in Japan) and members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Mayors for Peace will create an action plan to advance the abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020 through discussion centered on the goal of realizing a nuclear weapons convention.

At the opening ceremony on August 3, Angela Kane, the U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, will deliver a keynote speech entitled “The World Without Nuclear Weapons: From Dream to Reality.” The participants will also have the opportunity to listen to the testimony of an A-bomb survivor.

The participants will then engage in discussion on August 4 and 5. Through these discussions, they will craft an action plan for the next four years--until the next general conference is held--with the following three pillars: 1) increase the number of member cities and strengthen the group’s administration; 2) heighten international public opinion for the abolition of nuclear arms; and 3) promote the early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention. The participants will also adopt the “Hiroshima Appeal,” a joint declaration expressing their resolve to realize the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Matsui said, “The international community is working to outlaw nuclear arms by putting greater focus on the inhumanity of these weapons. I would like to draft the Hiroshima Appeal in line with this trend.”

Regarding the group’s administration, the conference participants will discuss the merits of introducing the “Leader Cities System.” Because the conditions involving nuclear weapons vary from region to region, as in the Middle East and Europe, Mayors for Peace is pondering the designation of the City of Hiroshima and 17 cities overseas, now serving as executive cities, as “leader cities,” charging them with the task of guiding the member cities in their region.

During the conference, Mayors for Peace will also engage in dialogue at sessions with NGO representatives. The conference schedule will then conclude after the participants attend the Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6 in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

The conference participants will include 278 Mayors for Peace representatives from 189 cities in and out of Japan. Among them, 117 are city mayors. Eight ambassadors to Japan, and 40 representatives from NGOs, will also be taking part. The total number of participants exceeds the number that attended the previous general conference, held in the city of Nagasaki in 2009, by 67, setting a new record for the eight general conferences that have taken place to date.

As of July 1, 2013, Mayors for Peace has 5,664 member cities in 157 nations and regions. The mayor of Hiroshima serves as the organization’s president. Its general conference is held every four years, alternating between the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the site of the venue.

[Conference participants, as of July 16, 2013]

                          Number of Organizations    Number of People (Mayors)

Domestic Cities                        99                     156 (59)
Overseas Cities                        90                     122 (58)
Government (including ambassadors to Japan)    8                     14
NGOs and others                       19                     26
Total                               216                    318

(Originally published on July 20, 2013)