Hiroshima governor seeks support for peace plan in Europe, moves to materialize vision

by Kenichiro Nozaki, Staff Writer

Completing a visit to Europe, Hiroshima Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki returned to Japan on November 4. During his travels the governor met executives of the European headquarters of the United Nations and other international organizations to promote the prefecture’s “Hiroshima for Global Peace” plan. He took this opportunity to build a network of contacts and sought support for a round-table conference planned for Hiroshima next year involving multilateral discussions on nuclear disarmament. Some aspects of the prefecture’s peace plan are set to come to life next year, and Mr. Yuzaki’s executive ability will be put to the test. The prefectural and municipal governments will also be challenged when it comes to cooperation and the sharing of roles.

On November 1, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, director-general of the United Nations Office at Geneva, met Mr. Yuzaki and expressed his appreciation of the plan, and his support, calling it a significant venture. Mr. Tokayev said that he will assist by sharing the plan with other nations.

During the eight-day trip, which began on October 28, Mr. Yuzaki paid visits to 13 international organizations and think tanks in Geneva, London, and Vienna. In meetings with the governor, executives of these organizations promised to lend their support to the peace plan.

Mr. Yuzaki pledged to formulate a peace plan while campaigning for governor three years ago. The plan, which was shaped in October 2011, articulates Hiroshima’s roles for advancing peace in the world, including holding a round-table conference on nuclear disarmament and training personnel in the field of peace building. In November 2011, Mr. Yuzaki met with Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, and gained his support for the plan. This year, Mr. Yuzaki visited Europe, a region he believes to be as crucial as the United States, with a view to establishing a foothold there.

“The visit was the first step in building a network. There is a high level of interest in our peace plan, and I received favorable reactions from the organizations I met with,” said the governor, stressing the positive response.

Still, more specific measures must be presented in order for the peace plan to be materialized. As for the round-table conference scheduled for next year, no official decisions have been made regarding which countries or individuals will take part, or when the event will be held. In his meeting with Mr. Yuzaki in Vienna, Daud Mohamad, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), pointed out that the plan is a summary of philosophical positions and the important part involves putting the ideas into practice.

Another challenge is developing the collaborative relationship which exists between Hiroshima Prefecture and the City of Hiroshima. To a certain degree, there has been a division of roles between the two governments, with the prefectural government making international contributions in such areas as the development of human resources in peace building, while the city’s mayors have been conveying the wishes of Hiroshima to the international community. Commenting on the peace plan Governor Yuzaki is promoting, a veteran prefectural assembly member said that it is the mayor’s role to convey appeals for peace from the A-bombed city.

During a press conference held on November 1 at the European headquarters of the United Nations, a question was posed regarding the division of roles between the prefectural and municipal governments. Mr. Yuzaki responded, “All of Hiroshima should address this issue.”

Among the events scheduled for next year are the round-table conference and the World Peace Concert, an event designed to express hopes for peace through music on an international scale. The governor must now present the objectives of the peace plan in tangible forms and involve the people of Hiroshima in implementing the plan.


“Hiroshima for Global Peace” Plan
The “Hiroshima for Global Peace” plan was crafted by the prefectural government in 2011 based on suggestions from experts in Japan and overseas. Among the roles Hiroshima should pursue, the plan stresses contributing toward the elimination of nuclear weapons and amassing research and training personnel in the field of nuclear disarmament. The plan also includes such ideas as creating a scorecard to rate nuclear arms reduction efforts by nuclear weapon states, organizing a round-table conference for nations to discuss nuclear disarmament, and fostering personnel dedicated to peace-building activities.

(Originally published on November 6, 2012)