Peace ordinance “Not meant for controls on free speech,” says Mayor

by Hajime Niiyama, Staff Writer

The Peace Promotion Basic Ordinance “is not intended for controls on free speech,” said Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui on July 1. Article 6, Clause 2 of the ordinance says the August 6 Peace Memorial Ceremony shall be performed in solemnity. About the application of the ordinance, he said, “The text of the ordinance stipulates the procedure in which people will not be forced to obey. We will first ask for people’s understanding and then their cooperation.”

Two organizations that are called the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations as well as the Hiroshima Bar Association demanded the draft ordinance be shelved or amended, arguing that “it can be interpreted as restrictions on people’s freedom of action.” Mayor Matsui’s comment was to dispel their misgivings.

Mayor Matsui made the comment after he received a written request from three groups including a civic group, which is based in Higashi Ward and seeks to have the ceremony in a quiet environment. Mayor Matsui also said he would continue to hold talks with groups that stage demonstrations around the Atomic Bomb Dome on August 6. He said the ordinance “authorizes the city’s procedure to try to convince people through talks.”

The written request asks the city government to perform the ceremony in solemnity holding the spirit of the ordinance in high regard and to issue written requests to the groups that hold demonstrations to ensure a quiet environment. “The ordinance should not be rendered ineffectual,” said Katsuya Ishikawa, the leader of the civic group working on having the ceremony in a quiet environment, after he handed the request to the mayor.

The ordinance, which consists of the preamble and 10 articles, was effectuated on June 29. The draft ordinance was proposed as a members’ bill at a regular meeting of the Hiroshima City Council in June and was adopted by a majority at a plenary session on June 25.

(Originally published on July 2, 2021)