Hiroshima mayor calls on U.N. to adopt nuclear weapons ban treaty

JIJI, Kyodo

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui on Thursday strongly called for the adoption of a treaty to legally ban nuclear weapons during the second session of a U.N. conference for negotiations on the pact that runs through July 7.

“I am speaking today as mayor of Hiroshima — the first city (in the world) attacked by a nuclear weapon — to share the earnest wishes of hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) for the elimination of nuclear weapons,” Matsui, 64, said in his address at the session, which started Thursday at the U.N. headquarters here.

Having gone through “incredible misery,” such as the sorrow of losing their beloved families and friends, and the long-term effects of radiation, Matsui, whose mother was an atomic bomb survivor who passed away in her 40s, said hibakusha “have arrived at the unshakable conviction that ‘no one shall ever again suffer as we have.’ ”

They have continued to “appeal for nuclear abolition and their fervent desire for peace to the people of the world,” he said, stressing, “Their earnest wish is to witness the prohibition of nuclear weapons in their lifetime.”

Matsui showed his gratitude for the inclusion of wording referring to hibakusha’s suffering in the preamble of a draft text of the proposed nuclear weapons ban convention.

The preamble says that the nations proposing the treaty are “Mindful of the suffering of the victims of the use of nuclear weapons (Hibakusha) as well as of those affected by the testing of nuclear weapons.” The draft was prepared by Elayne Whyte Gomez, permanent representative at Costa Rica’s mission to the United Nations in Geneva, who chairs the U.N. conference.

The U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, in the closing days of the war. Three days later, Nagasaki suffered the same fate.

All nuclear-weapons states, and most of the United States’ allies, including Japan, that are under the U.S. nuclear umbrella are absent from the nuclear ban treaty negotiations.

Two Japanese hibakusha will attend the ongoing session. Of them, Masako Wada, 73, who was exposed to radiation from the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, will deliver a speech. She now lives in Yokohama.

In his address, Matsui stressed the need to encourage nuclear-weapons states and their allies that have boycotted the negotiations to join the treaty.

“For this purpose, contracting parties to the new treaty and a wide range of civil society partners will need to join forces to conduct earnest dialogues with the nuclear-armed states and their allies to remind them that reliance on nuclear weapons is not only useless for solving current challenges of international security but will also endanger the survival of the entire human species,” he said.

Matsui also called on policymakers of the nuclear-armed states to “exercise decisive leadership in implementing their nuclear disarmament obligation if they are serious about preventing nuclear proliferation.”