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Mayor’s Message at the International Youth Conference for Peace in the Future (August 3, 2011)

Hello everyone and welcome to Hiroshima. I am glad to see you all here at the opening of the 2011 International Youth Conference for Peace in the Future, and I would like to say a few words on behalf of the 1.17 million (one million, one hundred and seventy thousand) citizens of Hiroshima.

This conference’s origins go back to 1985, which the UN designated as the International Youth Year. At that time, youth from Hiroshima; our sister city Hanover in Germany; their sister city Poznan in Poland, and from other cities came together at an international seminar to discuss what youth should do for the 21st century and how youth can contribute to peace. The participants agreed that the International Youth Year activities should not just end then, but should keep going for the next ten, twenty years. “We want 1985 to be the start of all this,” they said in their joint statement.

In 2005, 60 years after the atomic bombing, the International Youth Conference for Peace in the Future was held in Hiroshima for a peaceful world without nuclear weapons in the 21st century. Today’s conference is fourth to be held in Hiroshima.

There is something I would like to ask of you while you are here. When you go to the Peace Memorial Museum tomorrow and the Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6, I would like you to understand exactly what happened in Hiroshima on that fateful day in 1945, and how inhumane and cruel the atomic bombing was. Our citizens overcame their pain and suffering in that hell on earth to become tireless advocates for peace, telling their stories with the belief that “no one should ever suffer as we did.” Also, I would like you to share what you have learned with others back home. On August 6, 1945, a single atomic bomb reduced Hiroshima to ashes.

By the end of the year, around 140,000 (a hundred and forty thousand) citizens had died from the bombing. Hiroshima’s citizens felt inconsolable grief and pain, with their hometown obliterated and their beloved family and friends forever taken away from them.

The aging atomic bomb survivors or hibakusha are still suffering from the effects of radiation, and I am determined to have their legacy and strong wish for peace passed on to the next generation. By spreading their message to even more people around the world, we can fulfill the hibakusha’s utmost desire for a nuclear-weapon-free world.

The City of Hiroshima is working with the over 4,800 (four thousand eight hundred) member cities of Mayors for Peace, their citizens, and peace related NGOs around the world for the abolition of nuclear weapons by the year 2020. I sincerely hope that everyone at this conference will work together with us to create a bright future for humanity.

Individual relationships and mutual understanding are the building blocks for peace. Today you have come from 10 different cities in 8 countries to participate in this conference, and I hope you will become good friends as you spend the next two weeks together.

Also, I hope you will be able to enjoy what our city has to offer while you are here. Hiroshima is a beautiful city blessed with rolling green mountains, six rivers flowing through town, and the calm Seto Inland Sea. I hope you will try okonomiyaki, our local specialty, and visit our many historical, cultural, and scenic attractions.

In closing, I would like to thank Dr. Inai from the Hiroshima International Youth Association and the many individuals whose hard work made this conference possible. To all the youth, I hope you have a full and meaningful experience here, and that you will go back to your cities ready to spread your ideas for a bright, new future.

Thank you very much.

International Youth Conference for Peace in the Future Opening Ceremony
Peace Memorial Hall
Wednesday, August 3

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Email: hishoka@city.hiroshima.lg.jp


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