Yasuyoshi Komizo assumes post of chairperson of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

In November 2012, Yasuyoshi Komizo retired from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan after serving as a diplomat for more than 42 years. The last post he held was Ambassador to Kuwait. While working in the Middle East, where religious and ethnic strife are all too frequent, Mr. Komizo again came to believe: “The message of Hiroshima has nothing to do with nationality or culture. It is a wholehearted desire that others should not suffer the same tragedy, which is an important message that speaks to all human beings.”

On April 1, Mr. Komizo became the 9th chairperson of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, a body under the auspices of the City of Hiroshima. He is the first former official of the Foreign Affairs Ministry to take up the post. “I’m not from Hiroshima so I wondered if I was the right person for this position. But I would like to help disseminate Hiroshima’s message by making use of my experiences in international diplomacy, in which I engaged in numerous important talks,” he said with determination.

The accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 brought nuclear issues to Mr. Komizo’s attention. Back then, he was working for the Embassy of Japan in Vienna, Austria. At the time of the accident, he was in Germany on vacation. “I was genuinely concerned about the effect of radiation on my young children,” he said.

In 1987, Mr. Komizo was assigned to work at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It was then that he paid his first visit to Hiroshima to learn about the damage caused by the atomic bomb. “Hiroshima has been an important place for me ever since,” he said. He has listened to the accounts of many A-bomb survivors and, in 2000, when he was serving as a special assistant to the IAEA Director General, he helped realize an exhibition of A-bomb-related materials at the United Nations Office in Vienna.

Currently, Japan relies on the U.S. nuclear umbrella for its security. Although he worked for the Foreign Ministry, which plays a central role in the nation’s diplomacy, Mr. Komizo felt the limits of nuclear deterrence. “Nuclear deterrence is based on threats and mutual distrust,” he said. “A system that depends on such a mechanism will eventually collapse.” Mr. Komizo urges the importance of building up a network of citizens to bring about a shift in the government’s security policies.

Originally from Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, Mr. Komizo now lives with his wife in Naka Ward, Hiroshima. He said, “I enjoy taking walks, and I look forward to strolling around town and becoming familiar with the city.”

(Originally published on April 2, 2013)