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What the G-7 summit in Hiroshima means to 'Hiroshima' and what it should accomplish

A contribution to The Mainichi by Tadatoshi Akiba, former mayor of Hiroshima

    March 16, 2023

    Tadatoshi Akiba, former mayor of Hiroshima, is seen in this file photo taken at the city's Peace Memorial Park, on May 12, 2016. (Mainichi/Tadahiko Mori)

    As the G-7 Hiroshima summit approaches, the deep divide between the government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida with its supporters and those who have fought to eliminate nuclear weapons together with the hibakusha (A-bomb survivors) has become more than visible.

    On the one hand, the Kishida government, supported by the United States and others, continues to disregard the hibakusha's pleas to make the occasion a pivotal conference to welcome the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Other supporters of Kishida's "peace"-related policies and activities, including Hiroshima Prefecture and Hiroshima City, seem to go along with Kishida by promoting tourism and fun activities, and emphasizing the economic value of the May event.

    On the other hand, the voices that demand a radical policy shift from the Kishida administration on peace issues on this occasion lack strong enough counterpunches to change the status quo. We need more than to keep on insisting that G-7 participants sign and ratify the TPNW. I offer one answer to this in the YouTube video I will discuss later.

    In addition, these grassroots voices now have to address new, unexpected disturbances that the Hiroshima Municipal Board of Education has caused lately: The board announced that it would delete quotes from a famous manga and the description of the Lucky Dragon Five (Daigo Fukuryu Maru) fishing vessel from the peace studies textbook it distributes to schools in the city.

    Scenes from the manga "Barefoot Gen" are seen published in the "Hiroshima peace notes," part of the peace education curriculum aimed at students in the third grade of elementary school, at Hiroshima City Hall on Feb. 17, 2023. (Mainichi/Kiyomasa Nakamura)

    The manga "Hadashi no Gen" (Barefoot Gen) is well-received and influential in Japan and worldwide because of its realistic and moving descriptions of what happened in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, from the viewpoint of a boy called Gen.

    The Lucky Dragon Five was a tuna fishing boat hit by radioactive fallout from an American H-bomb test in the Bikini Atoll in 1954. The radioactive contamination caused one crewmember's death less than a year later, and the contaminated tuna caused a nationwide protest which, in turn, became a starting point of the Japanese anti-nuclear weapons movement.

    Because we, the peace voices in Japan, are limited in our power to deal with these problems all at once, we need you, fellow peace workers worldwide, to chip in.

    One request I would like to make is to watch the YouTube video the Japanese peace group Gensuikin, or the Japan Congress against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs, has put up. I speak on behalf of the hibakusha, fellow Japanese peace workers, and Gensuikin to propose that the "No First Use" principle of nuclear weapons should be discussed and adopted by the G-7 summit. And this will help push the ratification of the TPNW as well. I believe it is doable and practical.

    Please send this message to the leaders of the G-7 countries and others so that world public opinion will persuade the summit to accept our proposal.

    The text of the video is a compilation of two documents. One is the request Gensuikin made to Prime Minister Kishida on Feb. 14 this year, and the other is the acceptance speech by Tadatoshi Akiba this past March 4 on the occasion of the award ceremony of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Peace Prize.

    Here is the URL for the YouTube video:

    Responsibility of PM Fumio Kishida on the occasion of the G7 Summit, Dr. Tadatoshi Akiba

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