In May, Mayors for Peace formed a mayoral delegation of 89 people from 30 member cities in 10 countries and participated in the NPT Review Conference held in New York, USA. During the conference, we had a chance to speak in NGO Session and discuss with representatives of nuclear-weapon-states, through which we directly appealed to representatives of each government to make efforts to realize the abolition of nuclear weapons by the year 2020. We also strengthened unity with many peace-related NGOs and citizens from around the world who gathered in New York, and developed international momentum towards the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Mayor Akiba attended the Civil Society Forum on Nuclear Weapon Free Zones (NWFZs), which was co-hosted by Mayors for Peace, PNND (Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament), IALANA (International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms), and the Permanent Mission of Chile to the United Nations. During the session “From NWFZs to Nuclear-Weapon-Free World”, Mayor Akiba gave a speech and appealed to the audience to work together to realize the abolition of nuclear weapons by the year 2020.
Mayor Akiba was invited to deliver a speech at a conference organized by Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty (NWFZT) signatory countries. He criticized the nuclear-weapon-states, comparing their stance to that of a parent who fills their basement with gasoline to prevent their children from playing with fire. He pressed upon the need for nuclear abolition, called for leaders of nuclear-weapon-states to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and requested that NWFZT signatory countries take the initiative to start negotiations for the abolition of nuclear weapons as soon as possible.
In the morning, Mayors for Peace held the workshop “The Role of Cities” of the “International Conference for a Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just, and Sustainable World”, organized by various peace-related NGOs. During the workshop, Mr. Fujita, Chairman of Hiroshima City Council, and Mr. Yoshihara, Chairman of Nagasaki City Council, spoke on how the tragedies caused by nuclear weapons should never be repeated. Representatives of Malakoff and Vitry-sur-Seine (France) introduced their efforts in establishing peace culture.
When asked for a comment, Mayor Akiba spoke about the proposal at the Annual Meeting of the InterAction Council held in Hiroshima to have the leaders of each country visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He also emphasized the urgency needed to abolish nuclear weapons and stated that it is an issue that is the responsibility of our generation to solve. Mayor Taue of Nagasaki said that while hibakusha are still alive and speaking about the atomic bombing, that we must inherit those painful memories. He pointed out that in order to achieve that, each city has a role to connect global issues to its community. Lastly, Ms. Mariko Komatsu of the YES! Campaign Secretariat introduced their campaign activities supporting the “Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol”.
In the afternoon, Mayor Akiba of Hiroshima, Chairman Fujita of Hiroshima City Council, Mayor Taue of Nagasaki, Chairman Yoshihara of Nagasaki City Council, representatives from France, representatives of the National Council of Japan Nuclear Free Local Authorities, and members of Batten-kai (an association of Japanese residents in New York from Nagasaki and neighboring prefectures), and other representatives went to Battery Park, located in the southernmost end of Manhattan Island, to visit the World Trade Center Memorial, dedicate flowers and they pledged to do what they could to realize a peaceful world.
The delegation returned to Riverside Church in the evening to attend the “International Conference for a Nuclear Free, Peaceful, Just, and Sustainable World”, the Final Plenary organized by peace-related NGOs. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was also in attendance and during his speech he stated that nuclear disarmament is a top priority, that political will towards disarmament is important, that nuclear-weapon-states must fulfill their duty to Article VI of the NPT and he ended by announcing his plan to visit Hiroshima in August.
Mayor Akiba was the last speaker of the day. He announced that the membership of Mayors for Peace will soon reach 4,000. He pressed that nuclear disarmament is an urgent issue that the present generation has the responsibility to solve by the year 2020. He pointed out that support for the leadership role that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President Obama have taken for the abolition of nuclear weapons has spread across the world, and he made a request to the world’s leaders to meet with hibakusha face-to-face and listen to their wishes.
The streets around the Times Square were closed off so that the peace-related NGOs could hold a Peace Rally. Representatives of Mayors for Peace stood on stage holding Peace Torches and the Mayors for Peace banners while calling for world peace. Mayor Akiba and Mayou Taue gave speeches, saying “We must realize the abolition of nuclear weapons by the year 2020 while the aging hibakusha are still alive,” and were met with a loud round of applause.
Following the Peace Rally, about 20,000 people participated in a Peace March. The Mayors and Chairmen of the City Councils of Hiroshima and Nagasaki held a banner prepared by the organizer at the head of the group and were followed by a delegation from Mayors for Peace. The hour and a half long march ended in front of the United Nations Headquarters.
Mayor Akiba and Taue handed over the 1,577 city leaders’ signatures of the Cities Appeal in support of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol and over 1 million citizen signatures to the Cities Are Not Targets (CANT) project to Ambassador Cabactulan, President of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, and H.E. Mr. Sergio Duarte, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. Peace-related signatures including ours were also handed to President Cabactulan on May 4.
In the morning, the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Chairman of the Hiroshima City Council observed the opening session of NPT Review Conference.
In the afternoon, Mayor Akiba and Chairman Fujita attended a video-screening of a reproduction of the Hiroshima City hypocenter. This work was produced by Mr. Masaaki Tanabe in Hiroshima City and depicts what was lost in the atomic bombing by combining interviews of hibakusha and images of the hypocenter prior to the bombing, re-created by computer graphics. In introducing the video, Mayor Akiba mentioned that Mr. Tanabe’s house used to be right next to the A-bomb Dome and spoke about the importance of this work
The 2020 Vision Campaign Association, consisting of the executive officials of Mayors for Peace, held its Board of Directors Meeting and discussed the future development of the campaign.
Following this, the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Chairmen of both City Councils attended the opening ceremony of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Exhibition, held in the United Nations Headquarters. H.E. Mr. Kiyotaka Akasaka, UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, acted as master of ceremony. Mayor Akiba, Mayor Taue, and Mr.
Tsuboi, one of the representatives of Nihon Hidankyo (Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations), made short opening speeches and cut the tape.
At night, in a corner of Union Square, surrounded by candle light, we listened to hibakusha testimony and Mayor Akiba offered words of encouragement to the organizer.
Mayor Akiba also attended a reception for the “Hibakusha Stories Project” held at the UN Headquarters. To coincide with the NPT Review Conference, American NGOs and Hidankyo have teamed up to have hibakusha testimonies held at several American high schools.
The 2nd Mayoral Conference in the UN was held in the morning. The keynote speaker was Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He said that there must be complete disarmament, and after praising our efforts for nuclear disarmament, including the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol, he vowed to attend this year’s Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima. Mayor Akiba expressed his appreciation to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and promised that the civil society will join him in his tireless efforts. In his speech, Mayor Akiba stressed that: 1) Abolition of nuclear weapons is the top priority; 2) Political will for disarmament is crucial; 3) We must set a specific timetable, 2020 is especially important; 4) Negotiations must start now; 5) The world’s leaders must visit the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At the end of his speech, Mayor Akiba presented Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with a thousand golden paper cranes.
Representatives from the International Red Cross Committee, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), International Association of Peace Messenger Cities and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which are working together for nuclear disarmament, gave reports on their activities. Other speakers included Mayor of Granollers (Spain), Mayor of Aubagne (France), Mayor of Mazzarino (Italy), Dundee City Councillor (UK), Mayor of Mortsel (Belgium), Mayor of Nagasaki, Chairman of the Nagasaki City Council, Chairman of the Hiroshima City Council, representative of Kusatsu City, Mayor of Hirakata and Mayor of Fujisawa (Japan). They addressed their activities and pledged to continue making efforts to abolish nuclear weapons and achieve lasting world peace. Ms. Sakue Shimohira, a hibakusha from Nagasaki, talked about her A-bomb experience and made a plea to never again have war.
After finishing the morning session of the NPT Review Conference, Mayors for Peace along with three other organizations submitted a second petition for peace in the UN General Assembly Hall. The first set of petitions was submitted on May 2.
In the afternoon, Mayor Akiba and Chairman Fujita gave speeches at a peace rally held by Japanese civil service employees from Jichiroren (the Japan Federation of Prefectural and Municipal Workers’ Unions) on the occasion of the NPT Review Conference.
Mayor Akiba and Mayor Taue attended a conference on nuclear disarmament held by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). Mayor Akiba pointed out that: 1) Abolition of nuclear weapons is the top priority; 2) Political will to abolish nuclear weapons is crucial; 3) We must set a specific timetable, 2020 is especially important; 4) Negotiations must start now; and 5) Leadership is important.
In the evening, Mayor Akiba headed to Schimmel Theater of Pace University in New York City to attend an academic conference on peace “The Wisdom of the Survivor” co-hosted by City University of New York and others. In his speech, Mayor Akiba informed the listeners that the number of Mayors for Peace member cities was close to 4,000, and that, “Abolition of nuclear weapons was critical. We must take action now.” He read a quote from John Lennon, “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality” and appealed for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
In the morning, Mayor Akiba attended a 60 person meeting made up of Religions for Peace members and young religious leaders. Mayor Akiba quoted John Paul II’s, “To remember the past is to commit oneself to the future,” and hibakusha’s words, “No one else should ever suffer as we did,” as the fundamentals of Mayors for Peace, and called for the mayors to come together for world peace.
In the afternoon, Mayor Akiba visited the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations with a group of French mayors. They met Ambassador Eric Danon of the Conference on Disarmament and exchanged opinions on French policies.
In the evening, Mayor Akiba attended a meeting held by Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND). H.E. Mr. Douglas Roche, former Canadian Senator, was also in attendance. Mayor Akiba gave a presentation on Yes! Campaign’s cooperation in publishing a book and collecting signatures to support the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol and how their caravan visiting communities resulted in over 1,000 signatures of mayors.
In the morning, Mayor Akiba attended the executive meeting of the Middle Powers Initiative (MPI) and discussed future activities.
In the evening, Mayor Akiba and Mayor Taue went to Harlem and attended the Peace and World Harmony Reception at the Dwyer Cultural Center hosted by the New York Metropolitan Martin Luther King, Jr. Center of Nonviolence. In his speech, Mayor Akiba said that Hiroshima City passed out booklets on Martin Luther King Jr.
at the City’s coming-of-age ceremony and spoke about the activities of Mayors for Peace. He said that we must abolish nuclear weapons while hibakusha are still alive. When he concluded his speech by saying that we must work together for our children, his words were met with a round of applause. Mayor Taue also made a speech on the abolition of nuclear weapons. Ms.
Shimohira, a hibakusha from Nagasaki, spoke about her wish for peace. After their speeches, the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were presented the “World Harmony Award” from the center.
In the afternoon, Mayor Akiba met with Ambassador Susan Burk, Special Representative of the President (for nuclear non-proliferation) and exchanged opinions. He recognized President Obama’s attitude, offered to do what he could as a mayor for a world without nuclear weapons, and asked President Obama to visit Hiroshima City. Ambassador Burk voiced her appreciation of the cooperation, but cautioned that it would take long time for nuclear disarmament.
Afterwards, Mayor Akiba and Mayor Taue attended “NGO Session,” a program part of the NPT Review Conference. About 400 government representatives attended this session. Ms. Jody Williams (Nobel Peace Laureate and the founding coordinator of the ICBL), Mr. Sumiteru Taniguchi (a hibakusha from Nagasaki City), Pugwash President Jayantha Dhanapala (former UN Under-Secretary-General), were among the 16 people who made speeches, including the final speakers: Mayor Akiba and Mayor Taue.
Mayor Akiba said that the final communiqué of the 28th Annual Meeting of the InterAction Council held in Hiroshima included a recommendation that the world’s leaders make a visit to Hiroshima. He reminded the audience that the hibakusha’s life span was limited and that we must abolish nuclear weapons by 2020 while they were still alive. He recognized President Obama and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s efforts in moving Non-Aligned Movement towards disarmament. He was met with a round of applause. He also said, “Political will be required to abolish nuclear weapons by 2020 with about 4,000 member cities of Mayors for Peace and hibakusha in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We can do it.” Following that, Mayor Taue stated that, “If we face the reality that by relying on nuclear deterrence, the world is instead exposed to the danger of nuclear weapons, then we can see that only by creating a nuclear-weapon-free world can we free cities from the danger of nuclear weapons and give everlasting safety to the international community.” He requested that the representatives of all countries do their best to make the NPT Review Conference a success and start making efforts towards the conclusion of “Nuclear Weapons Convention.”