The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation mourns the death of Nagasaki Mayor Iccho Itoh, whose life was cut short by an assassin’s bullet. With this tragedy, the world has lost a great peace leader. As the three-term mayor of the last city to suffer atomic devastation, he became a leading spokesperson for a world free of nuclear weapons.
Mayor Itoh was the vice president of Mayors for Peace and a leader of their global campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons by the year 2020. The Foundation honored Mayors for Peace and the leadership of Mayor Itoh and Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba with our 2004 World Citizenship Award.
Mayor Itoh played a significant role in the three Nagasaki Global Citizens’ Assemblies held while he was mayor. The most recent of these took place in fall 2006. In his Opening Address to this Assembly, he underscored his deep commitment, and that of the people of his city, that Nagasaki “must be the last place where an atomic bomb is dropped….” He made this a major goal of his life.
Along with many of my colleagues working for the abolition of nuclear weapons, I had the pleasure and honor of knowing Mayor Itoh. He was a man with an easy smile and open manner, but one with a firm dedication to building a lasting peace. In Nagasaki, he was a gracious host to so many of us who participated in the Nagasaki Citizens’ Assemblies.
In tribute to Mayor Itoh, we have included a link below to a reprint of the Nagasaki Peace Declaration, which he delivered on August 9, 2006. I urge you to read it as the final testament and call to action by a great man. Let its words sink into your heart, particularly these words: “The time has come for those nations that rely on the force of nuclear armaments to respectfully heed the voices of peace-loving people, not least the atomic bomb survivors, to strive in good faith for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and to advance towards the complete abolishment of all such weapons.” To achieve this goal will require an active citizenry. Citizens of the nuclear weapons states, and particularly the United States, will have to lead their political leaders.
In closing his speech, he prayed for the undisturbed repose of those who lost their lives in the atomic bombings and proclaimed Nagasaki’s commitment “to continue to strive for the establishment of lasting world peace.” In honoring Mayor Itoh’s life and commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons, let us add our own commitment to this cause so critical to humanity’s future.
David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org), and a leader in the global effort to abolish nuclear weapons.