Hiroshima mayor calls for nuclear weapons ban

CHICAGO — Tadatoshi Akiba, mayor of Hiroshima, Japan, and president of Mayors for Peace, addressed a standing room crowd of over 350 at DePaul University here April 27. Akiba is touring the U.S. as part of the month of activities coinciding with the United Nations world conference on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Mayors and city officials will call on heads of states to begin eliminating nuclear weapons, instead of undermining the treaty’s disarmament obligations. The Bush administration policy to create new nuclear weapons has been singled out as the main challenge to the international treaty.

Akiba, although optimistic about humanity’s ability to survive, urged the audience not to be indifferent to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. “The fate of humanity is in our hands,” he said.

He called on people to lobby their mayor to join Mayors for Peace, organize community activities and have their organizations endorse the “World Mayors Emergency Campaign to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons – 2020 Vision Campaign.”

Sponsored by various DePaul University programs and colleges, including the Office of the President, the event included a powerful documentary film on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On Aug. 6, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, peace organizations will hold nationally coordinated protests against U.S. nuclear weapons policy. Sites so far include laboratories at Livermore, Calif., Los Alamos, N.M., and facilities Nevada and Tennessee. On Aug. 9, the date the Japanese town of Nagasaki was destroyed by a second U.S. atom bomb, candlelight vigils will be held in front of city halls across the U.S. Actions and conferences will be also be held worldwide.

The audience, a diverse, cross-section of the public, gave Akiba a standing ovation in recognition for his work. A group of students presented him with chains of origami peace cranes.