Mayor of Hiroshima says Now is the Time to end nuclear weapons

Endorsing a campaign by UK Churches, Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba ofHiroshima has stressed the crucial role of British citizens inridding the world of nuclear weapons.

The Mayor's statement came just days before the Non-ProliferationTreaty Review Conference, which will take place May 3 to 28 in NewYork. He said, "There is a danger that we consider nuclear weaponsto be simply an unfortunate fact of life we can do nothing about.This would be a grave mistake. Now is the time to map out the roadto global zero. At the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conferenceour governments must clearly demonstrate their stated commitment tothe elimination of all nuclear weapons."

The campaign, entitled Now is the Time, has invited people to signan online petition (at www.endnuclearweapons.org.uk) calling on allgovernments to demonstrate their commitment to a nuclearweapons-free world at the forthcoming conference. The Churches arepressing for governments to put all bomb-grade material underinternational control and commit to making the use and possessionof nuclear weapons illegal through a new Nuclear WeaponsConvention.

Steve Hucklesby, Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church inBritainsaid "Presidents Obama and Medvedev have signed an agreementto reduce their stockpiles of nuclear warheads. This reflects agrowing public desire to see the brakes come off multilateraldisarmament negotiations. We hope that the Review Conference willbe an opportunity for our voices to be heard through the manynon-governmental organisations that specialise in thesematters."

Mayor Akiba said, "I am delighted that Churches in the UK havecontributed to the call for governments to commit to a world freeof nuclear weapons. I hope the Churches in the UK will doeverything in their power to mobilize their congregations to letthe government know that they are ready to live in a world free ofnuclear weapons." In a letter to the British Methodist Church, headded that "Eliminating nuclear weapons from the world will be oneof humanity's greatest achievements".

The alliance includes the Church of England, the Church ofScotland, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain,the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), the United ReformedChurch, the International Affairs Department of the CatholicBishops Conference of England and Wales, the Catholic BishopsConference of Scotland and the Archbishop of the Church inWales.

Representatives of the World Council of Churches will be attendingthe NPT Review Conference, and will present the campaign's petitionto the UK delegation to the conference.

In the sixty-five years since Hiroshima experienced the atomicbombing that made it synonymous with the disastrous effects ofnuclear weapons, the city has continued to appeal for theirabolition. Through Mayors for Peace, Hiroshima is working with3,680 other cities to promote the 2020 Vision - a campaign for theabolition of nuclear weapons by the year 2020.