Hiroshima and Nagasaki mayors meet with U.N. secretary-general in New York

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

New York – In a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on April 28 at U.N. Headquarters in New York, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui and Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue requested that the United Nations exercise leadership to advance the abolition of nuclear weapons. Mr. Ban responded that nuclear abolition is one of the body’s top priorities, displaying his commitment to addressing this issue. The two Japanese mayors are visiting New York to take part in the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.

Only the beginning of the 30-minute meeting was open to the press. The mayors said that nuclear weapons are the epitome of weapons against humanity, an “absolute evil.” They handed Mr. Ban a formal request calling on him to take action, as the U.N. leader, in seeking to start negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention. They also handed to him 210,000 signatures in support of a convention that were gathered by Mayors for Peace during the past year. Mr. Matsui serves as the president of Mayors for Peace.

After the meeting, the mayors told the press that Mr. Ban said his visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 2010 was a moving experience that left a strong impression. He stressed the important role of the A-bombed cities and offered encouragement to the mayors. Referring to tensions in international affairs, Mr. Ban indicated that he would take a positive approach to these challenges, hoping for favorable developments. Mr. Matsui asked Mr. Ban to visit Hiroshima again in 2015, the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing, and Mr. Ban responded that he will consider the invitation.

After meeting with the secretary-general for the first time, Mr. Matsui said that he was able to convey the wishes of Hiroshima. Mr. Taue commented that he felt Mr. Ban’s desire to work together with the two cities.

A high school student and a university student from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively, also attended the meeting. Honoka Imai, 17, a third-year student at Hiroshima Jogakuin High School, who was dispatched by the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, said that the secretary-general offered her encouraging words. “Mr. Ban said that it’s important for younger generations to hand down the memory of the atomic bombings. I feel even more motivated now.”

(Originally published on April 30, 2014)