During a recent visit to Punahou, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui spoke to Academy students studying Asian history. Along with addressing Hiroshima’s tragic past, he discussed how the city and its citizens have moved forward to pursue a world free of nuclear weapons.
Matsui noted that there are currently 14,000 nuclear weapons in the world and explained the problem this creates. “These weapons could be used by accident or by terrorists, and they pose a great threat to the survival of mankind,” he said. “Each of us on the individual level should start by thinking about the preciousness of peace in our daily life and what each of us can do to preserve it.”
Following his presentation, Matsui fielded questions from students. The Q&A lasted for 40 minutes and covered a range of topics centered on Hiroshima’s history and the current status of international nuclear policy. He also gifted to Punahou a senbazuru – 1,000 origami paper cranes held together by strings. Inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki, the senbazuru has become a symbol for peace in Hiroshima.
In addition to his duties as Hiroshima’s mayor, Matsui is also president of Mayors for Peace, an international organization of cities dedicated to the promotion of peace. The organization was established in 1982 at the initiative of then Hiroshima Mayor Takeshi Araki, in response to the deaths of some 140,000 people due to the atomic bombing of the city on Aug. 6, 1945.
Mayors for Peace is globally promoting various initiatives aimed at the abolition of nuclear weapons, forging links with member cities, citizens, NGOs and other organizations around the world.