Hiroshima mayor will not mention right to collective self-defense in Peace Declaration on August 6

by Aya Kano, Staff Writer

On July 14, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui decided that he will not directly refer to the right to collective self-defense in the Peace Declaration he reads at the Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6, the anniversary of the atomic bombing. At a meeting at City Hall with a committee of experts and A-bomb survivors, which was formed to consider how A-bomb experiences will be incorporated into the contents of this year’s declaration, Mr. Matsui proposed two drafts of the speech. The draft which stresses the importance of steps taken after the war under the “sublime pacifism” of the Constitution, rather than referring to specific issues, was approved. The mayor will now finalize the declaration by early August.

All nine members of the committee, including Mr. Matsui, serving as chair, took part in the closed-door meeting. After the meeting, he said at a press conference that the committee discussed two drafts, one which mentioned specific issues, and the other which was approved later in the meeting. Excluding Mr. Matsui, seven of the eight members supported the second draft.

Although the mayor has been critical of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration for endorsing a reinterpretation of the Constitution so that Japan can exercise the right to collective self-defense, he said that the chosen draft is believed to “consolidate various issues under the idea of pacifism and incorporate the thoughts of the A-bomb survivors.”

  The committee members also selected the accounts of three A-bomb survivors from among the 61 survivors who had submitted their testimonies in response to a public appeal. These accounts will be mentioned in the declaration. The speech will also refer to the deaths of many students who had been mobilized to help dismantle buildings in order to create fire lanes and the desire for “a peace culture rather than a war culture.” The experiences of A-bomb orphans will also be included, a suggestion made by committee members.

Mr. Matsui is now drafting his fourth Peace Declaration since taking office in 2011. “I would like to develop the message in such a way that younger generations will view this issue as their personal challenge,” the mayor said.

(Originally published on July 15, 2014)