Hiroshima mayor considering whether to mention right to collective self-defense in August 6 Peace Declaration

by Aya Kano, Staff Writer

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said on July 3 that there is an even chance he will refer to the right to collective self-defense in the Peace Declaration, which he will read aloud during the Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6, the anniversary of the atomic bombing. The mayor said that the declaration cannot include every event occurring around the world, and that stressing a single issue is not a good idea. He explained that he will make a decision after consulting with a group of experts and A-bomb survivors, which was formed to consider how to incorporate A-bomb experiences into the contents of the declaration.

After the group met on July 3, Mr. Matsui spoke to reporters. “Rather than referring to individual problems, I can express my stance, as the mayor, by making appeals and asking questions,” he said. According to Mr. Matsui, at the group’s next meeting, members will compare drafts with and without the mention of specific issues, such as the Japanese government’s desire to permit the nation to exercise the right to collective self-defense.

Mr. Matsui, who assumed office in April 2011, has gathered A-bomb survivors’ accounts and included some in his previous Peace Declarations, in which he has also expressed his views on nuclear issues. After the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held an extraordinary cabinet meeting and endorsed reinterpreting the Constitution so that Japan can exercise the right to collective self-defense, Mr. Matsui voiced criticism. He said the fear that the scope of force used might expand without limits has not been dispelled.

Meanwhile, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue has indicated his intention to refer to the right to collective self-defense in his Peace Declaration, which will be read out on August 9, the anniversary of the Nagasaki A-bombing. He will finish writing his declaration by the end of July.

At the meeting of the Hiroshima group, members discussed testimonies collected from A-bomb survivors. Some voiced support for including the experiences of mobilized students and A-bomb orphans in the Peace Declaration.

(Originally published on July 4, 2014)