I prayed wholeheartedly for his recovery, but just received the report of his passing. I am filled with profound sorrow and outrage. The use of violence to suppress political activities is an obvious threat to democracy and cannot be tolerated.
For 12 years, since taking office as the mayor of Nagasaki in 1995, Mayor Itoh served as vice president of Mayors for Peace. As mayors of A-bombed cities, we worked together to persuade the world to abolish nuclear weapons and build genuine and lasting peace. At the NPT Review Conference in New York in 2000, Mayor Itoh represented Mayors for Peace with an eloquent speech at UN headquarters, then met with many government representatives to defend the absolute necessity of total nuclear weapons abolition. In part because of his efforts, the final document from that conference included “an unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.”
Five years later, at the NPT Review Conference in 2005, he participated in a Mayors for Peace delegation that included the representatives of 80 cities. He helped to lead 40,000 people gathered from around the world on a march through the streets of New York. He again rose before world leaders to forcefully present the expectations of the A-bombed cities. I will never forget the bold resolve with which he worked to abolish nuclear weapons, and I find it extremely painful to imagine about how he must feel about having been cut down before the job was done.
I vow to inherit his passion and, working with the 1,608 members of Mayors for Peace, do everything in my power to bring about the truly peaceful, nuclear-weapon-free world he so strongly desired.
I hereby express my great respect and admiration for Mayor Itoh’s achievements and offer my heartfelt condolences and prayers for his peaceful repose.
April 18, 2007
Mayor of Hiroshima
President, Mayors for Peace