Hiroshima bids on disarmament conference in August 2015

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

On October 7, it was learned that the City of Hiroshima, seeking to host the U.N. Conference on Disarmament on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing next year, will officially bid for the event by submitting a formal letter of request to the United Nations soon. The city hopes to hold the conference in late August of 2015 and add a new wrinkle to the proceedings by calling for policy makers to join the gathering. To date, such conferences have mainly been a forum for discussion among diplomats and researchers from various nations. The city would like policy makers to grasp the reality of the atomic bombing and take action to advance the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Organized by the U.N. Disarmament Affairs and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, the U.N. Conference on Disarmament has been held nearly every year in Japan. By the end of this year, the United Nations will make a decision, and announcement, with regard to the venue for the conference in 2015. As no other cities have moved to bid on the event, Hiroshima is expected to become the host.

The city anticipates about 100 participants. Because the next Review Conference for the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), held once every five years, will take place in New York next April and May, the gathering in Hiroshima could see animated discussion able to accelerate the realization of “a world without nuclear weapons” if the New York conference is a success. On the other hand, if the review conference fails, momentum will be lost and the Hiroshima gathering would likely face the grim theme of breaking the impasse for progress in disarmament.

The first U.N. Disarmament Conference, proposed by then Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita, was held in Kyoto in 1989. Diplomats and other figures took part in the conference as individuals, discussing issues involving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The conference was previously held in Hiroshima in 1992, 1994, and 1996. Local authorities must shoulder the costs for the venues and the accommodations for the participants, which usually amounts to about 40 million yen. Hiroshima Prefecture and the City of Hiroshima are expected to split these costs.

In September 2013, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, elected from district one in Hiroshima, announced that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would consider holding the conference in Hiroshima. Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui has taken a proactive position on hosting the event, on the condition that the conference will extend participation to policy makers. He has been working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other entities to realize this goal.

(Originally published on October 8, 2014)