Interview with Kazumi Matsui, Hiroshima mayor and president of Mayors for Peace

by Kohei Okata, Staff Writer

Sticking to nuclear weapons abolition by 2020

On July 26, The Chugoku Shimbun interviewed Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, who serves as president of Mayors for Peace, on the General Conference of Mayors for Peace, scheduled to take place from August 3 to 6 at the International Conference Center Hiroshima. Mr. Matsui expressed his intention to designate 30 “leader cities,” which will lead regional campaigns for the elimination of nuclear weapons. He also said that he will adhere firmly to the goal of abolishing nuclear weapons by the year 2020.

Mayors for Peace now has more than 5,600 member cities. How will you take advantage of this large number?
Since member cities have not been asked to bear any expense, the number has continued to grow. At the same time, what has become important is the substance of our activities, the specific actions we’re taking to advance the goals of eliminating nuclear weapons and realizing a lasting peace.

I’ve been following the efforts being made in European nations. Some member cities in the region are very active and working to address regional challenges. I hope to bring in some of these highly-motivated cities to add to the current 19 executive cities, making a total of about 30 cities to serve as “leader cities.”

With these “leader cities” sharing a similar mindset and circumstances, Mayors for Peace, as an organization, will be able to make a more persuasive argument, and gain a better understanding from the public.

Concluding a nuclear weapons convention in 2015, which is a goal laid out in the 2020 Vision, is facing a tough road.
No one believes this goal can be easily achieved. It’s tough, no question about it. But the goal has been set and we will continue moving toward it, promoting this cause by gaining the support of member cities. We have no choice but to move forward.

In 2015, we will begin discussing the next step. We will stick firmly to the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons by 2020.

Under these tough conditions, are you considering new measures for nuclear abolition?
There is no beaten track leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons. All those concerned must work together to craft a plan and act according to the circumstances. We also need to convey the idea that nuclear weapons are an absolute evil and cooperate closely with one another.

There is a move in the international community to focus on the inhumanity of nuclear weapons and make them illegal. What do you think of this movement?
The inhumanity of these weapons is exactly what Hiroshima has been trying to convey. The United Nations General Assembly is scheduled to meet this autumn. I hope to send out messages that can help more people grasp this idea, which will lead to further momentum. Peace must be built based on mutual trust between nations, not on the threat of nuclear deterrence. I will call for establishing this new paradigm.


Mayors for Peace
Mayors for Peace developed out of “The World Conference of Mayors for Peace through Intercity Solidarity,” which was established in 1982 in response to a proposal from the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki serve as president and vice president, respectively. As of July 1, membership totals 5,664 cities from 157 countries and regions. The organization promotes the “2020 Vision,” which seeks the elimination of nuclear weapons by the year 2020.

(Originally published on July 27, 2013)