Komizo of Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation on “Epoch Making” visit by John Kerry and other G7 Foreign Ministers (12/04/2016)

 Kerry: “It is a stark, harsh, compelling reminder not only of our obligation to end the threat of nuclear weapons, but to rededicate all our efforts to avoid war itself.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press conference at the conclusion of the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meetings in Hiroshima on April 11, 2016. (Source: pressty.ir)
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press conference at the conclusion of the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meetings in Hiroshima on April 11, 2016. (Source: pressty.ir)

Upon the end of G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

NHK Hiroshima TV news programme broadcasted on 12 April, 2016
(Following is a tentative translation made by Komizo on the basis of sound recording of the TV programme.)

Yasuyoshi KOMIZO, Chairperson, Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation
Yasuyoshi KOMIZO,
Chairperson, Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation

Anchorperson: We have invited to this TV programme a guest who accompanied Secretary Kerry and other Foreign Ministers at the Hiroshima Peace Park. Mr. Yasuyoshi Komizo, Chair of Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, welcome to this programme.

Komizo: Thank you!

Anchor: And Ms. Koyama, our reporter who covered the meeting, is also with us.

 First Mr. Komizo, Secretary Kerry has laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in the Peace Park. He has been the first ever US Cabinet member in office who has visited Hiroshima Peace Park. Please tell as the significance of this visit.

Komizo: It was an epoch-making visit. Secretary Kerry has made a courageous decision to do so. We feel that we should also try our best on our part to make this significant visit to become a turning point towards a world free from nuclear weapons.

Anchor: United States has its own viewpoint on the dropping of the atomic bomb. From the country that dropped the atomic bomb, the visit of this high public figure as high a cabinet member as Secretary of State to Hiroshima is clearly quite significant.

 Secretary Kerry visited Peace Park and also visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. After the visit of the museum, he wrote the following in the guest book. “It is a stark, harsh, compelling reminder not only of our obligation to end the threat of nuclear weapons, but to rededicate all our efforts to avoid war itself.” And also “This memorial compels us all to redouble our efforts to change the world, to find peace and build the future so yearned for by citizens everywhere.” In your view, Mr. Komizo, how Secretary Kerry was impressed when he went through the museum.

Komizo: They were very sincere. Not only Secretary Kerry but also all the foreign ministers of G7 and EU have observed the museum display very attentively and closely. I am convinced that each one of the ministers has inscribed in their heart, the messages of the museum; devastating humanitarian consequences as well as earnest appeal for peaceful future.

Anchor: In the TV screen, a scene of Secretary Kerry with you talking is being shown, looking out from the window of the museum. After the visit of the museum, Secretary Kerry and other dignitaries together also visited A-bomb dome. How did it happen?

Komizo: That was a total surprise. It was not in the programme. In fact, after the visit of cenotaph, they were supposed to leave the Peace Park and therefore the governor, the mayor, myself and the director of the museum were lining up outside the museum entrance to see them off. However, they did not show up for quite some time and then we were told that they unexpectedly headed towards the A-bomb dome. Four of us were shocked and dashed to follow them and caught them up just in front of the A-bomb dome to brief them. We understand that it was Secretary Kerry’s own initiative and all the ministers agree to visit the A-bomb dome. They must have felt deeply the significance of the message of Hiroshima and that prompted them to make their own decision to change the programme to see also the A-bomb dome closely by going to the sight, in order to complete the visit.

Anchor: So it was not planned beforehand.

Komizo: Not at all. It was totally unexpected and it was a great surprise to us all.

Anchor: Please look at the scene just showing on TV screen where Secretary Kerry and you, Mr. Komizo talking were seen through the museum window, was exactly the spot where A-bomb dome and cenotaph could be viewed on a straight line.

Komizo: Yes, it was.

Anchor: What were you talking at that time?

Komizo: Well, I did not expect that the scene was shot by TV camera. Yeah, I was explaining about the Peace Park and the locations of cenotaph and the A-bomb dome. Then Secretary Kerry asked me whether the A-bomb dome was the hypocenter and I was waving my hand to indicate the direction of the actual hypocenter further to the right.

Anchor: Yeah, indeed. Secretary Kerry was also able to see the A-bomb dome from the spot where he laid the wreath at the cenotaph.

Komizo: Yes, you are right.

Anchor: Next, we would like to take up G7 Foreign Ministers’ Hiroshima Declaration on Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, the first ever independent document adopted at the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Ms. Koyama, please introduce us this document.

Koyama reporter: Let me focus on three key points on Hiroshima Declaration:

 First, on how to express the consequences of Atomic bomb use, Hiroshima declaration uses the expression “human suffering”. Japan has been using the expression “humanitarian consequences” consistently in UN and other fora to express the consequences of nuclear weapons. This declaration does not contain this established expression.

 Secondly, this document emphasizes a central role to be played by G7 in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, leading the efforts of all the states in the world. Hibaksha, surviving victims of atomic bomb, and others have, however, criticized this document for the lack of concrete measures and timeframe by which nuclear disarmament shall be implemented.

 Thirdly, it calls on political leaders and others to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On this point, Hiroshima Governor Yuzaki is among those who welcomed the fact that this document expressly mentioned the name of “Hiroshima” to call on world leaders to visit the atomic bombed sites.

Anchor: Yes, in this document, invitation to visit “Hiroshima” and “Nagasaki” were expressly mentioned.

Anchor: Mr. Komizo, first of all, could you comment on the expression of consequences of atomic bomb use. This document did not use “humanitarian consequences” that were established expression used consistently to express A-bomb devastation. It instead uses the expression “human suffering”. What would you like to say on this point?

Komizo: In recent years, we have been witnessing growing awareness and campaign for the need of nuclear disarmament among wide-ranging civil society groups and many non-nuclear weapons states focusing on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. This focus on humanitarian consequences have increased demand to legally prohibit nuclear weapons. Thus, in this campaign process, the expression “humanitarian consequences” has become closely associated with the campaign to legally prohibit nuclear weapons. Due to such development, nuclear weapons states have become reluctant to use this particular expression. Under such circumstances, Japanese Government has chosen an alternative language that expresses the same meaning to include in this document, instead of dropping the concept altogether. To a certain extent, I can understand this approach of Japanese Government as a sort of diplomatic wisdom. This change of expression does not need to be taken too seriously. Consensus language has been achieved to preserve the concept.

Anchor: On the other hand, does it also imply a setback since they have failed to agree on using the established language of “humanitarian consequences”?

Komizo: Let me explain the situation in the following manner. In the recent past, nuclear disarmament campaign focusing on humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons has gathered significant momentum. This successful campaign also invited caution and resistance. Now we are observing the close encounter of different inclinations and their rising contention. Any campaigns of importance don’t develop in simple linear course. They go through advances and retreats. Even an airplane does not take off by tail wind alone. It requires against wind as well. Facing against wind, it either stall by it or take off and fly higher taking advantage of it. Choosing an alternative expression “human suffering” is a way to preserve momentum to advance nuclear disarmament. We should therefore focus on a way to further advance this important momentum.

Anchor: Next, please comment on the role of G7 to lead the international campaign towards nuclear disarmament.

Komizo: This time, among nuclear weapons states, USA, UK and France came to visit Hiroshima and among nuclear umbrella states, Japan, Germany, Canada and Italy as well as EU came together. All of them inscribed deep into their heart the message of Hiroshima for peace. They discussed what they should do to advance this important cause. They are however bound by the accumulated policy direction at this moment. They are not yet ready to jump far beyond the boundaries in the existing policy context. They have agreed on what they can achieve within such contexts. Looking for the future directions, however, I would like to emphasize the fact that all the G7 leaders felt deeply the message of Hiroshima and understood the need to accelerate the pace towards a world free from nuclear weapons. Therefore, we can welcome it as a good starter. On that basis, we, Mayors for Peace as well as diverse civil society partners need to closely watch the performances of these leaders to shape their commitments into the concrete policy directions towards nuclear disarmament. Furthermore, Mayors for Peace is also committed to work hard to create environment to support these leaders’ initiatives for peace.

Anchor: Lastly, on the G7 call on world leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as Secretary Kerry’s visit to Hiroshima has come true, expectation is rising for President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima as well. Ms. Koyama please comment on this point.

Reporter: Yes, indeed. Secretary Kerry has stated the following at the press conference held after the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting: “Everyone should visit Hiroshima, and everyone means everyone. So I hope one day the President of the United States will be among the everyone who is able to come here. Whether or not he can come as President or not, I don’t know. He has said so publicly, he wants to come to Hiroshima sometime. But whether or not that can work in the next visit, I just don’t know.”

Anchor: On this remark by Secretary Kerry about President Obama’s visit, what would you say?

Komizo: First of all, at the news of possible visit of Hiroshima by Secretary Kerry, US public opinion shown in the internet was very much critical. Secretary Kerry knew it. Recognizing such negative reactions, Secretary Kerry has come to Hiroshima, and has made such a clear public statement and not only that, he has even visited A-bomb dome in his own initiative. I was moved by his actions. These actions prove his commitment, determination and quality judgement as a politician, as a leader. He would no doubt report to President Obama what he has found out in Hiroshima. Receiving such report, what will happen at the midst of ongoing complicated process of Presidential campaign is very much a big question mark. It will not be an easy decision at all. However, in our observation of current world situations, we feel that there is a good chance of President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima during his Presidency. Because true leaders announce their important messages not when everything goes smoothly, but rather at a critical moment of difficult challenges. World is facing problems of Ukraine, difficult challenge of North Korea, stormy Middle East. These situations clearly require leadership to reach out and to lead concrete policy directions to a settlement. This is the essence of leadership and therefore President Obama has a very good reason to come to Hiroshima and we in the civil society will also make our utmost efforts to help create a favorable atmosphere to ensure President Obama solidify his mind to visit Hiroshima with important messages.

Anchor: I see. This evening, we have reported the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that ended yesterday, together with Mr. Komizo, Chair of Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. Ms. Koyama, our reporter has also been with us. Thank you very much, Mr. Komizo.

Komizo: I thank you very much to you too.