August is Mayors for Peace month. At the start of the month we marked the 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Sadly, some politicians failed to notice this as they were too busy posturing about their nuclear prowess.
I can only hope they see some sense and learn some lessons from my Mayor of the Month.
The human cost of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is incalculable. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands, died as a direct result of the bombing. Millions felt the ongoing emotional and physical effects. It literally scarred an entire national consciousness.
At the time Takeshi Araki was 29. As his life was just getting going he became a Hibakusha, a survivor of a nuclear bombing. It changed his life forever.
The call to politics
After recovering from the bombing, he was elected to Hiroshima council in 1947. After much service, he rose to the position of mayor in 1975. Initially he occupied himself with the work of running a sizable city.
But in 1976 he became aware that the US Air Force had re-enacted the bombing of Hiroshima at a Texas air show. His reaction was revulsion but not hatred.
He took action. He first protested to the Japanese government. But soon realised he needed to go further. He travelled to Washington DC to meet with the Head of Arms Control and Disarmament Agency with a view of progressing American nuclear disarmament. He realised he needed to go further still.
In 1978 he appeared before the UN to remind the world it must not forget the lesson of Hiroshima. In 1982 he was back to propose a program to promote solidarity among cities. He wanted to offer them a way to go beyond their national borders and work together to press for nuclear disarmament.
As he put it “A new concept of world order should be built from the ashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki”
With the Mayor of Nagasaki, and other city leaders, the Mayors for Peace programme was born.
Mayors for Peace
Takeshi summed the idea up like this, “I earnestly vow before the souls of the A-bomb fallen victims that we will continue to call strongly for the total abolition of nuclear weapons and to strive vigorously for the realisation of eternal peace.”
Yet the programme recognises that peace is more complicated than that.
Peace will only come about with real change in the world. The Mayors for Peace Programme calls leaders to work towards eliminating starvation and poverty, assisting refugees, supporting human rights and protecting the environment, because these contribute towards a more peaceful world.
Remember “There can be no survival for any without peaceful coexistence for all.” Click To Tweet
And if that doesn’t give our mayors and council chairs something to get their teeth into I don’t know what will.
Takeshi shows us something important about the role of mayor. Yes, your job is about your community. But yes, you can go beyond that. You can take on the whole world if you have the energy.
Being mayor is a platform for affecting the whole world if you have a clear vision. Because as Takeshi reminds us, “The fates of all of us are bound together here on earth.”
You can find out more about the Mayors for Peace programme here.