Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba's 2004 World Citizenship Award Acceptance Speech
Memorial Hall, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, October 8, 2004
Tadatoshi Akiba, Mayor of Hiroshima and President of Mayors for Peace accepting the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's 2004 World Citizenship Award.
Dr. David Krieger, honorable guests, colleagues and friends. It is my greatest honor to represent 619 member cities of the organization Mayors for Peace in accepting this year's World Citizenship Award from such a prestigious organization as the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
It is indeed a pleasure to be recognized here in Hiroshima by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation among such prestigious leaders in the movement for the abolition of nuclear weapons. This organization, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, has spearheaded our movement by showing us the direction to follow. It has also given us concrete examples by taking specific measures that have been effective in accomplishing our goal.
The recent Nuclear Age Peace Foundation campaign called "Turn the Tide" is an excellent example of a job well done, one that will have a great effect on the world.
I also would like to add that we are fortunate to find a leader in the person of Dr. David Krieger as well as in the persons all of us here, leaders in a joint effort for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
I would like to take this opportunity to summarize what our organization, Mayors for Peace, has been trying to accomplish and what we are aiming to accomplish. To start my review, I would like to mention one trend that is very important, at least in my mind.
The problem of nuclear weapons was created by science and technology. Partly because of this, our movement to abolish nuclear weapons is firmly based on science, scientists, scientific thinking and all the relevant facts.
Here I am using the words "science," "scientists," and so forth broadly. Let me mention a few examples that might be noteworthy. In the 1980s, a great movement was created, the nuclear freeze movement, largely through the efforts of physicians. Medical science, one of the scientific realms, declares that there is nothing these powerful scientists can do once nuclear war erupts.
Environmental scientists also show us clearly that from the environmental and ecological points of view that nuclear war is not preventable. The only way to get rid of this danger is to abolish all nuclear weapons.
Other scientists and experts can tell you from their areas of expertise that the only way is to get rid of all nuclear weapons.
Here I would like to add another component to this list of experts' opinions about nuclear weapons. That is, the perspective of mayors or city managers.
Actually there is an American president who describes what I am going to say very well. Let me quote him first. The president is Abraham Lincoln. He said, "You may fool all of the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time. But you can not fool all of the people all of the time".
In a sense, this is an abstract statement but it is most true on the level of running a city, dealing with daily lives of citizens. For example, in lofty or high places, one could argue whether weapons of mass destruction exist or not and can get away with not saying the truth.
But on the level of issues that mayors deal with, when garbage piles up on the streets there is no denying it. You cannot just lie. We have to deal with daily lives of citizens at that level. That is why mayors really see the facts clearly. We see the truths that surround us very clearly and we base our judgment on those facts and truth.
Last October, in Manchester England , Mayors for Peace held an executive committee meeting. The discussion was based on facts that we have to deal with on a daily bases. We have come to the conclusion that nuclear weapons will have to be eliminated as soon as possible. We have set the deadline for the year 2020.
Although some people said that wouldn't be doable, we set the year 2020 partly because of the hibakusha. Hibakusha is the Japanese word for survivors of atomic bombs. As a matter of fact, after we announced the deadline we received warm words from our hibakusha friends. Their only complaint or criticism was that 2020 was not soon enough because they may not alive to see the day.
To honor these hibakusha , we would like to stick to that goal and work harder in order to realize our goal no later than the year 2020. To start a summary of our activities let me start with what the hibakusha themselves have done. I believe it is very important to mention this. The World Citizenship Award, I am sure, has been given to Mayors for Peace because we do represent the voices of hibakusha.
In the Peace Declaration of 1999, I summarized and pointed out three important contributions that the hibakusha had made by that time. The first one is the fact that they chose to live under circumstances in which they could not have been blamed had they chosen death. They not only chose to live, but to do so as decent human beings. This is quite an accomplishment that we tend to take for granted.
The second accomplishment is that they effectively prevented a third use of nuclear weapons. When we tell their stories of August 6 and August 9, we feel like we live them. Certainly, anybody who went through that experience wishes to avoid telling it. Despite that fact they kept telling the world what would happen if another nuclear weapon should be used.
The third important accomplishment is that they created and live a new world view. This is what Dr. Albert Einstein believed. Although he thought it did not exist, it does in the minds of hibakusha and it has spread all over the world by now. I would like to express that value as "reconciliation" instead of "retaliation". The hibakusha themselves say simply that no one else should go through the experience they had. This spirit has been captured in the Memorial Cenotaph in the Peace Park , as well as in the Japanese Constitution.
These are the footsteps on which the Mayors for Peace base our decisions and future activities.
The first activity that the Mayors for Peace launched actually occurred in April this year in New York .
Mayors and deputy mayors gathered in New York City to attend the Preparatory Committee meeting of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference, speak to the national delegates from various countries, make speeches, speak to city council members in New York City, speak to journalists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and so forth. It was a series of very important activities, some of which were extremely effective.
I would like to quote a deputy mayor who summarized the activities in April. Jenny Jones is the deputy mayor of London . She said, "At the beginning of the experience in New York I was not sure what would happen, but the entire experience was invigorating. I am recharged with energy and feel I can work even harder for the abolition of nuclear weapons once I go back to London ". She was pleased, energized and energetic. London will be represented at the NPT Review Conference next year in May. I'm hoping Mayor Ken Livingston himself will join us.
The consensus among participating mayors and deputy mayors was that although not all of the comments from national delegates were encouraging, after we went through the experience, we believe that it is possible to abolish nuclear weapons by the year of 2020.
The second step of our activity is basically the one-year period between August 6 of this year till August 9 of next year, although we will put more focus on the period between August 6 this year until the NPT Review Conference in May next year.
During this period we would like to sponsor concerts, symposia, and other activities to raise public awareness and to gather more momentum worldwide. There are many different activities happening all around the world on a daily basis, and more mayors are joining the Mayors for Peace organization. Other organizations and NGOs are holding their own activities to help us gather forces together in May next year in New York .
The important component of our campaign is for mayors and NGOs to approach their respective governments to get them to help us induce the NPT Review Conference to adopt formal documents outlining our proposal for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Our aim is to have a universal nuclear weapons convention signed by the year 2010 and ultimately abolish all nuclear weapons by the year 2020. We also have a contingency plan in case our present course does not materialize. But I am not going to tell you about that because we would like to concentrate on realizing our goal rather than fearing that we may not be able to accomplish it.
The third step is the NPT Review conference itself, which will be held in May next year. By the way, next year is 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings. We would like to have at least 100 mayors from Mayors for Peace cities and also at least 1000 NGO representatives representing various voices grassroots movements from around the world in New York during the NPT Review conference.
I also would like to tell you that our efforts have been doubled, tripled or quadrupled - actually enhanced one hundred-fold by people of various organizations and NGOs around the world who have worked so hard. Let me just point out a few things that did not happen in the previous movement for abolishing nuclear weapons.
Our efforts - grassroots movements and civil society movements - quite often have been ignored by formal governmental structures. In February this year, the European Congress actually adopted a resolution supporting the Mayors for Peace emergency campaign. In June in Boston , the US conference of Mayors consisting of 1183 American cities adopted by acclamation a resolution whose content was even stronger than that of European Congress. Many governments, including those who sent their ambassadors to Hiroshima in recent years, have endorsed our emergency campaign.
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation President David Krieger presenting Tadatoshi Akiba, Mayor of Hiroshima and President of Mayors for Peace with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's 2004 World Citizenship Award.
In the area of NGOs, International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), which won the Nobel Prize in 1985, has also recently adopted a resolution endorsing our emergency campaign in Beijing.
And today we have honor of receiving the 2004 World Citizenship Award from the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, which is another way of endorsing our campaign in an effort to expand this effort to abolish all nuclear weapons by the year 2020.
In 1945, just after the atomic bombing, some people claimed that no life would grow in Hiroshima for 75 years. Of course you see the trees and flowers now, so this statement was not true. But in a different sense, as long as we have nuclear weapons on this earth, one could claim that no real life is actually thriving on the earth. We do not have life actualizing its fullest potential as long as there are nuclear weapons. Therefore, let us make sure that the year 2020, 75 years after the atomic bombings, will be the year real life is born again by abolishing nuclear weapons.
When Mr. Nelson Mandela was released from the prison after 28 years, he was asked by a journalist, "What are you going to do next?" I suppose the journalist wanted to hear some important political action that Nelson Mandela was planning at the time. But Nelson Mandela answered "I would like to listen to classical music while watching a beautiful sunset on a beach."
So in that spirit I would like to promise you that Mayors for Peace, and I personally, will do our best to accomplish our goal by the year 2020. And I know that all of you will join us, so that in the year 2020 we will be able to listen to Beethoven's 9th Symphony and rejoice that finally peace has come while watching the sun set beautifully into the Seto Inland Sea over Hiroshima. Let's work together.
Thank your very much.