President Matsui’s visit to Germany, Italy, and Vatican City
In November, Mr. Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima and President of Mayors for Peace, visited Germany, Italy, and Vatican City with the primary purpose of attending an event held in connection to the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the U.N. Convention on Climate Change, in Bonn, Germany.
In addition to attending the event in Bonn, President Matsui made presentations on the theme of peace, conveying the realities of the atomic bombings, and the hibakusha’s wish of for peace. In the Vatican, he had a chance to greet Pope Francis and requested he visit the A-bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Schedule for President Matsui: November 9 (Thu) ～ November 16 (Thu)
November 10 (Fri)
Meeting with Mr. Takeshi Yagi, Ambassador of Japan to Germany
President Matsui and Ambassador Yagi discussed recent topics such as the current situation in Europe and the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to ICAN. President Matsui talked about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, referring to it as the next step after the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. He said that he believes that the two treaties are compatible and he would like to share this idea with as many people as possible.
Presentation at Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin
President Matsui made a presentation at the university titled “From Hiroshima to Our World Free from Nuclear Weapons—Beyond Human Atrocities.” This occasion was made possible by a continuous 13 year-long collaboration between the university and Hiroshima City since 2004 through the “Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Study Course,” which aims to convey the realities of the atomic bombing to younger generations. There were about 150 people in the audience, including people from the university and representatives of peace organizations, and a lively Q&A session concluded the lecture. After the presentation, President Matsui had a meeting with Dr. Monika Gross, Rector of the university, and Professor Eugen Eichhorn, who helped the establishment and management of Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Study Course at the university.
Meeting with Freundschaftskreis Hannover-Hiroshima e.V (Germany-Japan Association and Hannover-Hiroshima Friendship Group)
President Matsui met with Ms. Setsuko Poetzsch, Honorary Chairperson of the society and Mr. Georg-Gunther Thurnau, the Chairperson and expressed respect and appreciation for the society’s long-standing efforts in the field of youth and cultural exchange, as well as peace.
Meeting with Mayor Stefan Schostok of Hannover
President Matsui thanked Mayor Schostok for Hannover’s contributions to Mayors for Peace as a Vice President and proposed to deepen their collaboration in the field of environmental protection as well. Mayor Schostok shared with President Matsui Hannover’s efforts in peace.
November 11 (Sat) – 12 (Sun)
Attending events related to the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the U.N. Convention on Climate Change
November 13 (Mon)
Meeting with representatives of the City of Thiene, Italy
President Matsui met with Alderman Zorzan and Councilor Stivanello from the city of Thiene. Since 2016, Thiene has engaged in raising citizens’ awareness of peace through joining the Mayors for Peace A-bomb Tree Program. As part of this educational program, second generation A-bombed ginkgo saplings were planted in Thiene’s five elementary schools in March this year. They handed to President Matsui one of the ginkgo saplings raised in Thiene, so that the sapling could be donated to the Italian Parliament.
Meeting with the Japanese ambassador to the Holy See and Secretary for Relations with States of the Vatican
President Matsui met with Mr. Yoshio Nakamura, Ambassador of Japan to the Holy See, and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States of the Vatican. President Matsui requested their support in inviting Pope Francis to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, expressing his sincere hope that Pope Francis will visit the A-bombed cities to listen to the hibakusha’s experiences and share in their earnest wish for peace.
November 14 (Tue)
Meeting with Ms. Lisa Clerk, the IPB Co-President
President Matsui met with Ms. Lisa Clark, the Co-President of International Peace Bureau (IPB), who has supported Mayors for Peace activities in Italy. President Matsui asked Ms. Clark for her cooperation in our recruitment efforts to reach 10,000 members by 2020. Ms. Clark assured him of her support in further promoting Mayors for Peace activities in Italy. She pointed out that while municipalities are faced with various challenges, including the financial problems, and many NGOs are actively working without ample funds, and by having them work together in a complementary manner, we can foster public opinion toward nuclear abolition.
Meeting with Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies and welcoming new members from Italy to Mayors for Peace
President Matsui met with Ms. Laura Boldrini, speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament, and Mr. Stefano Dambruoso, President of the Italy-Japan Parliamentary Association. President Matsui handed over to President Boldrini a second generation A-bombed ginkgo sapling which had been tended to by the city of Thiene, an Italian member city of Mayors for Peace, and conveyed his wish that in tandem with this tree’s development, the momentum toward nuclear weapons abolition will be further enhanced in Italy. Furthermore, the Mayors of Macerata and Pompeii officially expressed their affiliation to Mayors for Peace in response to President Boldrini’s call, and signed their registration forms.
Delivering a speech at the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament
President Matsui of Mayors for Peace gave a speech at the Conference on the Importance of World Peace held at Palazzo Montecitorio, the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament. The conference was attended by about 50 people including MPs, and representatives from municipalities and NGOs. President Matsui spoke about the realities of the atomic bombing and the message of hibakusha for about 20 minutes. He conveyed the message that: With recent developments such as the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to ICAN, policymakers around the world are expected to make big decisions. They need stop relying on nuclear deterrence, and with long-term perspective, start seeking a security system for all humanity that does not depend on nuclear weapons. Civil society is committed to nurturing conditions for world leaders to demonstrate such political leadership.
November 15 (Wed)
Meeting with the Pope
President Matsui attended the General Audience held in St. Peter's Square, at which 20,000 believers gathered, and had the chance to talk with Pope Francis. President Matsui introduced to the Pope his city’s efforts toward nuclear abolition based on the hibakusha’s wish for peace and handed over a letter (English, Italian, Spanish) on behalf of the Mayors of Nagasaki and himself, in his capacity as the Mayor of Hiroshima, to request the Holy Father to visit the A-bombed cities. Pope Francis listened to Mr. Matsui’s words attentively, and said “I think so, too” expressing his understanding of our wish for nuclear abolition and a papal visit to the A-bombed cities.