Nuclear weapons can be eliminated: Chapter 7, Part 5

Chapter 7: Making a fresh start
Part 5: Activities in Hiroshima

by Keisuke Yoshihara and Junichiro Hayashi, Staff Writers

Making a difference through a signature drive

Seeking to advance a world free of nuclear weapons, Hiroshima citizens are increasingly busy with their activities. On September 28, two A-bomb survivors left by car from in front of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, bound for Shimane Prefecture. This was four days after the resolution on nuclear abolition was adopted at the state-level meeting of the UN Security Council. The "Yes! Campaign," a citizens' initiative, dispatched the caravan team of A-bomb survivors to ride current international momentum and inspire public opinion.

The caravan team is set to visit a number of municipalities to call for signatures in support of the "Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol." The protocol is being championed by Mayors for Peace, for which Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba serves as president.

Hopes for the Hatoyama administration

Among the 1,772 municipalities of Japan, less than 400 have endorsed the protocol. Maeko Nobumoto, 61, secretary general of the "Yes! Campaign," is eager to foster their effort, in which signatures have been collected in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Nagoya and other prefectures, into a nation-wide campaign in cooperation with the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations. "I would like the consensus of municipalities to set the course for the Japanese government to take," said Ms. Nobumoto. She hopes the Japanese government will be proactive in proposing the protocol to the international community.

"The new administration has brought us new hope," said Mr. Steven Leeper, 61, chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. He pointed out that, before taking office, Mr. Hatoyama was the first prime minister to agree to meet with Hiroshima Mayor Akiba. In addition, in his address at the United Nations, Mr. Hatoyama called on world leaders to visit the A-bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Mr. Leeper commented on the difference he feels between the Hatoyama administration and previous Japanese administrations.

Prior to any visits by a head of state, John Roos, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, came to Hiroshima on October 4. Mr. Roos spent nearly an hour at Peace Memorial Museum. "A visit to Hiroshima is a powerful reminder of the destructiveness of nuclear weapons, and underscores the importance of working together to seek the peace and security of a world without them," the ambassador wrote in the museum register. Mr. Roos, while dining with Mayor Akiba and his wife, was reported to have said: "I would like to talk with President Obama about my experience in Hiroshima."

"The door has opened"

In addition, the final meeting of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND) will be held in Hiroshima. Commission members from the United States, Russia, France, China and India will come to the city. Along with the progress expected to be made through their discussions in regard to nuclear abolition, they are scheduled to listen to the account of an A-bomb survivor.

"The door has opened. The next step is to prevent the door from closing," said Kota Kiya, 68, the secretary general of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations, in commenting on the international momentum for nuclear disarmament and abolition. The tone of his remarks serves to inspire the survivors of his organization and suggests that the concrete actions taken by the A-bombed cities and the A-bombed nation will be a driving force toward the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Mayors for Peace
As of October 1, 2009, membership in Mayors for Peace has reached 3,147 cities in 134 countries. To eliminate nuclear weapons by 2020, it has proposed the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol. The protocol includes provisions for the immediate halt of all activities related to the acquisition and use of nuclear weapons and the legal codification for measures taken to halt such activities. It also addresses the elimination of nuclear weapons and the systems that produce, deliver and launch these weapons. Mayors for Peace is making efforts to have the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol adopted at the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference to be held in May 2010.

(Originally published on October 9, 2009)

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