How I became a Mayor for Peace
Sixty-seven years ago on August 6 at 8:15 a.m. the first atomic bomb the world had ever seen destroyed the entire city of Hiroshima and thousands of men, women and children.
Three days later, on August 9, the people of Nagasaki suffered the same fate.
Many of us remember where we were and what we were doing when the news was announced over the radio. After years of active combat, the reaction was one of great relief.
The war was over.
We suddenly became aware of an awesome new weapon, and horrible though it was, the war was over.
Fast forward to the 1980s:
During my first year in office (1984).I led a small delegation from Sac. to that city.
The itinerary would take me through Hiroshima where I had arranged for a stopover to pay a courtesy call on the mayor. He graciously made time for me and we toured the Peace Park and Museum. Part of our conversation dealt with the ongoing arms race and my efforts, as mayor of an American city, to change our priorities. As Mayor Araki and I shared information on what we were doing in our respective cities to stop the production and testing of nuclear weapons, I was impressed with the commonality of purpose and the similarity of activities.
Seeing Mayor Araki’s commitment, sustained for so many years, and the sincerity of his plea for the abolition of nuclear weapons, I wanted to let him know that he wasn’t going it alone; that many in America shared his concern about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and were trying to bring them under control.
He gave me a copy of the Peace Declaration that he had recently issued. His aide explained that the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki convened groups of world leaders every four years to tell their story and reaffirm their commitment to peace.
It was that meeting that led to my receiving an invitation to attend, the following year, the 40th anniversary commemoration of the A-bomb.That event was the 1st World Conference of Mayors Through Inter-City Solidarity with the theme”the role of cities in the nuclear age”.
Throughout nearly a week of discussion and deliberation as we explored the contributions that cities could make, the hundred or so mayors in attendance were so inspired that we voted to make the conference a permanent organization called the World Conference of Mayors for Peace with headquarters in Hiroshima, and I was later appointed by Mayor Araki to the first Executive Committee of this new international organization. I attended several worldwide conferences as well as meetings of the Executive Committee after that.
In 1991 Mayor Araki asked me to go to the United Nations in NewYork to a attend a meeting of the UN’s Economic and Social Council, Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations to request that the World Conference of Mayors for Peace be granted consultative status as a Non-Governmental Organization.
Our credentials included efforts and programs on peace and disarmament issues. Our organization was granted NGO status. (I was not received warmly. I arrived early and then waited all day to be called upon to make my presentation, even though I had taken time out of the mid-year mayors’ conference in session in Washington, D.C. and had to get back to DC by a late afternoon shuttle. The U.S. had just sent troops to the Persian Gulf, for which the UN committee I was meeting with expressed its profound disapproval to me, not an official statement of any kind from a UN source but mutterings from members of the committee I was speaking to, composed of representatives from several other nations.
What could I say.)
I am pleased to say that Mayors for Peace still exists, under the auspices of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and has spread to other countries as well.
Read a Paragraph from current mayor’s recent Peace Declaration:
In it, he pays tribute to the survivors, the hibakusha, who are now in their late 70s, for what they did to bring their city back to life., living with the guilt of being their families’ only survivors.
“Through this Peace Declaration, I would like to communicate the hibakusha experience and desire for peace to each and every person on this planet. Hiroshima will pour everything we have into working, along with Nagasaki, to expand Mayors for Peace such that all cities, those places around the world where people gather, will come together to eliminate nuclear weapons by 2020.
“ Moreover, we want all countries, especially the nuclear-armed states, including the United States of America which continues its subcritical nuclear testing and related experiments, to pursue enthusiastically a process that will abolish nuclear weapons. To that end, we plan to host an international conference that will bring the world’s policymakers to Hiroshima to discuss (plan?) the nuclear non-proliferation regime. “