Japanese foreign minister says that U.N. disarmament conference may be held in Hiroshima in 2015

by Jumpei Fujimura, Kohei Okata, and Keiichiro Yamamoto, Staff Writers

At a high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament by the U.N. General Assembly, held at United Nations headquarters in New York on September 26, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, elected from district one in Hiroshima, revealed that the Japanese government is considering the idea of holding the U.N. Conference on Disarmament in Hiroshima in 2015, which will mark the 70th year since the atomic bombing.

U.N. disarmament conferences, where government officials and experts from various nations gather to discuss nuclear disarmament and related issues, have been held every year in Japan since 1989. The venue for the disarmament conference has been decided through consultations between the United Nations and Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among other entities. If Hiroshima is selected as the venue for the 2015 conference, it will be the fourth such conference to be held in Hiroshima since 1996.

In his address, Mr. Kishida referred to the fact that a foreign ministerial meeting of the Non-proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), comprised of 12 non-nuclear weapons states, will also be held in Hiroshima next April. The minister expressed his hope that people will visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to learn about the horror of the atomic bombings firsthand.

The first U.N. Conference on Disarmament, proposed by Noboru Takeshita, then prime minister, was held in Kyoto in 1989. The conference, co-sponsored by the U.N. Disarmament Affairs and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, was held in Japan each year since, through 2011. In January and February of 2013, the conference was staged again, this time for three days in Shizuoka. About 70 people attended that gathering, including diplomats and experts from 16 nations and three international organizations.

The conference was previously held in Hiroshima in 1992, 1994, and 1996. Local authorities must shoulder the costs of the venues and accommodations for the participants, which can amount to about 40 million yen. In the past, the organizers have sometimes had difficulty finding host cities due to this financial burden.

After Mr. Kishida’s announcement, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said he welcomed this development, calling it very good news. At the same time, the mayor touched on the nature of the conference, where diplomats and other figures take part in the conference as individuals, not national representatives, and said, “I would like to discuss with the foreign ministry the idea of holding a conference where the participants will be mainly policy makers and influential leaders.” 

(Originally published on September 28, 2013)