Mayors for Peace President and Vice President’s Visit to Norway
to Attend the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony (December, 2017)
Mayor of Hiroshima and President of Mayors for Peace, Mr. Kazumi Matsui, and Mayor of Nagasaki and a Vice President of Mayors for Peace, Mr. Tomihisa Taue, attended the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony held in Oslo, Norway, where they joined in the celebration of the prize being awarded to ICAN. Through meetings with government representatives and interviews with local and international media, they also took this opportunity to draw attention to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. They stressed the Treaty’s importance in referring to the suffering of hibakusha and the inhumanity of nuclear weapons and creating a paradigm shift in the minds of civil society and called on all states to sign and ratify the Treaty to enable its early entry into force.
Schedule for President Matsui and Vice President Taue: December 8 (Fri) ～ December 12 (Tue), 2017
December 9 (Sat)
Donation ceremony for the seeds of A-bombed trees
Seeds of A-bombed trees from Hiroshima were donated to the botanical garden of Oslo University. With about 20 hibakusha from Hiroshima and Nagasaki watching over the ceremony, President Matsui and Vice President Taue planted the seeds of Jujube, Japanese Hackberry, Kurogane Holly and Ginkgo in pots with Mr. Raymond Johansen, the Governing Mayor of Oslo, and Dr. Svein Stolen, Rector of Oslo University. In his speech, President Matsui expressed his hope that the trees will come to serve as a symbol of peace and that as they grow, so does the momentum in the international community for nuclear abolition, and that our prayers for peace will be shared far and wide and for a long time to come.
Meeting with Ambassador of Austria to Norway and Austrian Ambassador to the EU Political and Security Committee
President Matsui and Vice President Taue met with Mr. Wilhelm Maximilian Donko, Ambassador of Austria to Norway and Mr. Alexander Kmentt, Austrian Ambassador to the EU Political and Security Committee. Ambassador Donko pointed out the significant roles of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in raising awareness about the inhumanity of nuclear weapons and said that it is important to involve ICAN and hibakusha in future efforts. Ambassador Kmentt mentioned that it is necessary to raise awareness among the nuclear-armed states about the devastating effects on a global scale caused by the use of nuclear weapons and also to have logical discussions about to whom security systems that depend on nuclear deterrence provide safety.
Preview of the Nobel Peace Prize Exhibition
President Matsui and Vice President Taue attended a preview of the Nobel Peace Prize Exhibition at the Nobel Peace Center, which is composed of several topics, including photos of nuclear testing, Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombings, personal belongings of A-bomb victims loaned by the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a history of ICAN, and past Nobel Peace Prize laureates. This exhibition, commemorating ICAN’s receiving of the Peace Prize, will be open to public for a year.
December 10 (Sun)
Breakfast meeting hosted by the Mayor of Oslo
President Matsui and Vice President Taue were invited to a breakfast meeting hosted by the Mayor of Oslo. They proposed to Ms. Marianne Borgen, Mayor of Oslo, and Mr. Raymond Johansen, Governing Mayor of Oslo, that the City of Oslo consider assuming a Lead City role in Norway for Mayors for Peace.
Meeting with Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Ambassador of Mexico to Norway and Ambassador of Mexico to the Organization of American States
President Matsui and Vice President Taue met with Dr. Luis Videgaray Caso, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Mr. Jorge Castro-Valle Kuehne, Ambassador of Mexico to Norway, and Mr. Jorge Lomonaco, Ambassador of Mexico to the Organization of American States. Foreign Minister Videgaray expressed his firm commitment for practical initiatives for nuclear disarmament, including ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and stressed the importance of the roles of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and his support for the work of Mayors for Peace. President Matsui requested his cooperation in membership expansion in Mexico in order to form a stronger voice of civil society in support of nuclear abolition. Vice President Taue expressed that he hopes to share the inhumanity of nuclear weapons through member cities with people around the world to raise awareness of nuclear abolition.
Attendance of the Save the Children's Peace Prize Party
President Matsui and Vice President Taue attended the Save the Children's Peace Prize Party, planned and implemented by twelve 12-year-old children. The two mayors were invited with other distinguished guests such as Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway and Ms. Beatrice Fihn, the Executive Director of ICAN. About 200 children attended the party, which included a performance by the children titled “Don’t burn our dreams” and an interview with Ms. Fihn conducted by the children.
Attendance of the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony
The Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony was held solemnly with the presence of around 1,000 guests, including King Harald of Norway, leading ICAN campaigners, representatives of hibakusha, President Matsui and Vice President Taue. Ms. Beatrice Fihn, the Executive Director of ICAN, disavowed security that is dependent on nuclear deterrence, saying that “these weapons are not keeping us safe.” She said “we represent the only rational choice,” which is choosing the end of nuclear weapons over the end of us, and called on every nation to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Ms. Setsuko Thurlow shared her experience as a hibakusha and stressed, “These weapons are not a necessary evil; they are the absolute evil” and powerfully appealed, “Let this be the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.”
Meeting with Ambassador of Ireland to Norway and Director for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation of Ireland
President Matsui and Vice President Taue met with Mr. Karl Gardner, the Ambassador of Ireland to Norway, and Ms. Jacqueline O'Halloran Bernstein, Director for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation of Ireland. Ambassador Gardner mentioned that with the number of hibakusha reducing, memories are fading, but we need to make sure to never let the same tragedy happen again. Ms. O'Halloran said that she hopes that the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to ICAN will have a positive impact, motivating more states to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Meeting with Minister of Foreign Relations and Worship of Costa Rica and Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the UN Office at Geneva
President Matsui and Vice President Taue met with Mr. Manuel Antonio Gonzalez Sanz, Minister of Foreign Relations and Worship of Costa Rica, and Ms. Elayne Whyte Gomez, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the UN Office at Geneva. Foreign Minister Gonzalez talked about the importance of having support from the A-bombed cities in order to expand favorable public opinion for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Expressing his confidence in the initiatives of Mayors for Peace, he said that his country would like to offer support in any way possible and that we need to make sure that we do not lose this momentum for nuclear disarmament and work harder to increase the number of the Treaty’s contracting states. President Matsui expressed his appreciation for Ambassador Whyte’s contribution to the adoption of the Treaty and said that he hopes to expand Mayors for Peace Membership to 10,000 cities by 2020 to gain enough influence to have leaders of nuclear-armed states to change their policy. Vice President Taue said that he considers it important to have an effective approach to the people outside of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and would like to continue our efforts to expand the voices of civil society.
Attendance of a live interview with the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate hosted by Al Jazeera
President Matsui and Vice President Taue viewed a live interview with Ms. Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN, with an audience of around 700 people, including local students. Ms. Beatrice Fihn said she would like young people to experience the many things happening in civil society and keep working, as that is how you make progress on social issues.
Participation in the Nobel Peace Prize Torchlight Parade
President Matsui and Vice President Taue participated in a traditional torchlight parade in honor of the laureate to call for nuclear abolition that made its way through center of Oslo. The parade ended in front of the Grand Hotel where the laureates, Ms. Fihn and Ms. Thurlow greeted them from the balcony. The participants of the parade from in and around the country held up signs and banners calling for nuclear abolition and calling on their own country to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of nuclear weapons. The voices chanting “Yes, I can!” grew wider and wider.
Dinner with representatives from Executive Cities of Mayors for Peace
President Matsui and Vice President Taue had a meeting over dinner with mayors and city officials of Mayors for Peace Executive Cities: Frogn (Norway), Biorgard na Moru (Croatia), and Manchester (UK), and exchanged views on future collaboration.
December 11 (Mon)
Nobel Peace Prize Forum Oslo 2017
President Matsui attended the Nobel Peace Prize Forum Oslo 2017 held at Oslo University. This year’s forum featured Dr. Rigoberta Menchú Tum, who received the Nobel Peace Prize 25 years ago for her work with indigenous peoples' rights. Dr. Menchú said that while being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize helped expand public awareness about indigenous rights, we must continue to make efforts to raise global awareness through education.
Meeting with Dr. Svein Stølen, Rector of Oslo University
President Matsui met with Dr. Svein Stølen, Rector of Oslo University and asked him to consider offering the “Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Study Course,” an academic course designed to convey the reality of the atomic bombings and the messages of hibakusha, at the university.