Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

America, Britain, France… and Hiroshima
NISHIKAWA Megumi  / Journalist

September 29, 2009
This year, a record number of 59 countries sent their ambassadors and ministers to the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima, and eleven countries made their first appearance, marking another record. One country that gathered particular attention was Israel, which is considered to possess nuclear weapons.

Israeli Ambassador Nissim Ben-Shitrit arrived in Japan in August 2007. "Since coming to Japan, I have been recommending my country to participate in the Peace Ceremony," he told me during an interview. Asked whether U.S. President Barack Obama's speech on eliminating nuclear weapons in April had any influence, he denied it, saying he had received the invitation before the speech, and already had approval from his government at the time. This leaves three nuclear powers that have yet to attend the ceremony – America, Britain and France.

The City of Hiroshima has been sending out invitations to countries with nuclear weapons since 1998. In the first year, Ambassadors from India and Pakistan participated. Subsequently, the Russian Ambassador began attending in 2000 and the Chinese Consul General in 2008. America, Britain and France, however, had never sent their delegates to the ceremony.

There was a time when Britain and France jointly considered attendance. Upon the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in 2005, the two countries exchanged views at the ambassadorial level to consider taking the opportunity of that historical year to attend. However, in the end they let the opportunity pass. There were two reasons for the decision. The first was their relationship with America. As the P3, the three countries collaborate closely on nuclear policy, and Britain and France hesitated about acting on their own. The second reason was the speech given by Hiroshima Mayor Akiba Tadatoshi. Each year during the ceremony the Mayor strongly criticizes countries with nuclear weapons, and this made Britain and France cautious about attending the ceremony at the risk of giving rise to a delicate issue with America.

This year, President Obama's speech in April created a major reason for the three countries to participate. The timing seemed perfect for the three countries to do so together. However, it was not to be. The period coincided with the appointment of the new U.S. Ambassador John Roos, and I imagine the U.S. embassy in Japan could not take the initiative necessary to convince the homeland in the absence of an ambassador.

In hindsight, Mayor Akiba's Peace Declaration this year was exceptionally lenient towards America. At the end of his speech, the Mayor said in English: "we are the Obamajority. Together, we can abolish nuclear weapons. Yes, we can." British and French diplomats said of this year'speech that it would have posed no problem for their participation.

Next year, I strongly hope America, Britain and France will all participate in the Peace Ceremony. That would bring together representatives of every nuclear nation in Hiroshima, offering the greatest opportunity not only for consoling the victims'souls, but for spreading the momentum of abolishing nuclear weapons from Hiroshima to the world.

The writer is Expert Senior Writer on the Foreign News Desk at the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

西川 恵 /  ジャーナリスト

2009年 9月 29日





結果論だが、今年の秋葉市長の平和宣言は、米国に対して極めて融和的だった。市長は最後に英語で「私たちはオバマジョリティー(オバマ多数派)です。力を合わせれば核兵器は廃絶できます。イエス、ウイ キャン」と述べた。英、仏の外交官も「今年の秋葉市長のスピーチなら、参加することに何ら問題はなかった」と語る。


(筆者は毎日新聞 外信部 専門編集委員。)
一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > America, Britain, France… and Hiroshima