Hiroshima Memo: A Vision of ”Human Security”

by Akira Tashiro, Executive Director of the Hiroshima Peace Media Center

Mayors for Peace, originally a vision of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was founded 26 years ago as “The World Conference of Mayors for Peace through Intercity Solidarity.” In that year, 1982, tension between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. was mounting over the deployment of Pershing II intermediate-range missiles in Europe by the U.S. and over other matters. Fearing a nuclear crisis, people in the U.S. and Europe organized large anti-nuclear demonstrations. In Hiroshima, too, about 200,000 people gathered to voice their opposition to nuclear weapons. As I covered these events earlier in my career, I experienced the power of citizens at the grassroots level.

In negotiations among nations, priority is nearly always given to “national interest” rather than “human interest.” And the best example of this involves negotiations on nuclear disarmament. Every country insists on its own “national security,” not the wider “human security” of the world, and asserts its position with little concession. The spirit of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto of 1955, which urges “Remember your humanity, and forget the rest,” is paid no heed.

Cities and municipalities around the world, as the form of government with the closest ties to the daily lives of human beings, are charged with the responsibility of safeguarding their citizens and should thus join together in transcending national borders to advance the total abolition of nuclear weapons. This has been the inspiring message of Mayors for Peace since its inception.

The membership of Mayors for Peace now exceeds 2,000 member cities from 127 countries and regions. Cities from around the world, many in Europe and the U.S., have been stirred by the resolute vision of Mayors for Peace to realize the abolition of all nuclear weapons by the year 2020. NGOs and ordinary citizens have also been empowered by this initiative.

The challenge involves bringing together the diverse forces in support of this vision-- which include non-nuclear weapon states, the overwhelming majority of nations--in order to place pressure on nuclear weapons states at the U.N. and at other forums. As we send out appeals to the world from Hiroshima, we must also work harder at persuading our own government, representing the only country to have suffered nuclear attack, to take stronger action towards fulfilling a nuclear weapon-free world.