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Hiroshima and Nagasaki as models of city diplomacy

Abstract

Mayors worldwide are currently actively engaged in transnationally coordinated efforts to address climate change, pandemics, terrorism, and other global challenges, and a significant amount of scholarly attention has been paid to this development in the fields of international relations, urban studies, and security studies. Yet, curiously, the pioneering work of the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in their Mayors for Peace campaign and other related efforts to promote a vision of a world without nuclear weapons since the 1970s has scarcely been examined in city diplomacy research. Drawing largely on archival research in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this article addresses one of the key issues in the field—the legitimacy of city diplomacy. How do mayors justify the use of the limited resources at their city hall’s disposal for a global campaign associated with a policy goal that is beyond their jurisdiction? In the defense and security fields, where national leaders are the primary policymakers and deciders, this question of legitimacy is especially acute. The cases of Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s city diplomacy for the elimination of nuclear weapons are no exception, despite the fact that their legitimacy has often been taken for granted given the two cities’ unique historical experience. The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have consistently, and at times jointly and at times separately, sought to establish their legitimacy locally, nationally, and internationally. Their city diplomacy since the 1970s has successively revealed several different registers of legitimacy. Each register of legitimacy—enacted through cooperation with the national government; confrontation with the national government; and collaboration with cities, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals outside Japan, respectively—is relational and has entailed distinctively spatiotemporal reconfigurations. While city diplomacy researchers have persuasively argued that the emergence of city diplomacy is emblematic of the structural transformation of the world order in which actors and issues are not simply local, national, or global, the cases of Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s city diplomacy serve as a reminder that the legitimacy of city diplomacy demands consistent relational recalibration through which the current world order is reimagined.

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Notes

  1. By deploying the concept of “remembrance diplomacy,” Klockmann has sought to draw attention to diplomatic efforts by the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to “institutionalize their collective memory of the nuclear bombings” within the UN frameworks for nuclear disarmament (Klockmann 2018: 523).

  2. Sarah Lister’s (2003) investigation of issues entailed in the legitimacy of nongovernmental organizations and Verena Girschik’s (2020) analysis of the legitimacy of corporate efforts to catalyze social change have also shown that legitimacy demands consistent relational reconfiguration, involving realignment of both internal and external relations.

  3. Mayors are, of course, not new actors in international relations. Since at least the 1950s, numerous sister-city arrangements across the globe have fostered cultural exchange, business linkages, and other mutually beneficial citizen-to-citizen relationships (see, e.g., Menju 2018; Oda 2017; O’Toole 2001; Zelinsky 1991; see also Jain 2005 for a historical overview of local and regional governments’ international relations).

  4. In this context, Mark Suchman has defined legitimacy as “a generalized perception or assumption that the actions of an entity are desirable, proper, or appropriate within some socially constructed system of norms, values, beliefs, and definitions” (1995: 574).

  5. In studies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the roles the mayors and city officials have played in anti-nuclear activism in the two cities have been largely taken for granted, treated as somewhat tangential to more grassroots citizen-level activism, and ironically have escaped sustained and rigorous analytical attention (see, e.g., Diehl 2014, 2018; Miyamoto 2012; Otsuki 2016; Southard 2016; Yoneyama 1995; Zwigenberg 2014). While there are many official reports and publications about municipal peace promotion work in the two cities, little scholarly attention has been paid to the specificity of this work (see Kawaguchi 2011; Klockmann 2018; Matsunaga 2012; Yabui 1992 for notable exceptions).

  6. http://www.mayorsforpeace.org/english/.

  7. “Hiroshima, Nagasaki urge state to sign, ratify U.N. nuke ban treaty,” Kyodo News, November 2020, https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/11/6750bca479ab-hiroshima-nagasaki-urge-state-to-sign-ratify-un-nuke-ban-treaty.html.

  8. See https://kokkai.ndl.go.jp/#/; http://gikai.city.hiroshima.jp/voices/; and http://www.city.nagasaki.nagasaki.dbsr.jp/index.php/, respectively.

  9. Mayor Araki had the Hiroshima Peace Culture Center incorporated as a foundation. Today, the foundation, chaired by the mayor of the city, operates the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and executes a broad range of local and international peace education and promotion activities in close coordination with the mayor’s office and the city hall’s Peace Promotion Division. The foundation also serves as the secretariat for the Mayors for Peace campaign.

  10. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided Mayor Araki with extensive logistical support. In particular, Genichi Akatani, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, who was serving as the Assistant Secretary General of the Office of Public Information at the UN at the time, served as an intermediary between the Hiroshima mayor’s office and the UN and was able to arrange the meeting with Secretary-General Kurt Josef Waltheim. The Ministry also coordinated various meetings between the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and ambassadors to the UN from countries with nuclear weapons as well as from countries that opposed nuclear weapons (Hiroshima City and Nagasaki City 1977: 70–71; see also Klockmann 2018: 526).

  11. For a summary of resolutions by the National Diet of Japan related to the three non-nuclear principles, see the following Ministry of Foreign Affairs site: https://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/gaiko/kaku/gensoku/ketsugi.html, accessed, January 26, 2021.

  12. The stated purposes of the foundation, established with Mayor Motoshima as its first president, reflected the philosophy of peace articulated by the foundation’s first chairperson, Dr. Tatsuichiro Akizuki: “Let us be united around one big common cause while keeping small differences of opinions alive” (shoi wo nokoshite daido ni atsumaru), a clever and consequential rephrasing of a Japanese saying, “Let’s set aside differences of opinions so that we may join a common cause” (shoi wo haishite daido ni tsuku) (Akizuki 1983: 2; my translation). The common goal here was the abolition of nuclear weapons. By the late 1970s, Dr. Akizuki, a medical doctor widely known for his heroic rescue work following the bombing, had emerged as the unifying force of Nagasaki’s fragmentary anti-nuclear movement during the 1970s (Yamashita 2006). It is commonly understood in Nagasaki that his inclusive philosophy of peace was anchored in his bitter experience of earlier ideological divisions within the anti-nuclear movement.

  13. Annual commemorative ceremonies took several different forms prior to the 1950s. Initially, ceremonies focused on the commemoration of the victims of the bombings and were organized by a consortium of the city hall, private associations, and religious organizations. These annual ceremonies became official events of the two cities in the 1950s. See Fukuda (2014), Nagasaki City (1996: 411), Ubuki (1992, 2014a: 149–150).

  14. “Nagasaki heiwa sengen, 1981” (Nagasaki peace declaration for 1981), https://nagasakipeace.jp/japanese/appeal/history/1981.html; accessed, August 29, 2020; my translation.

  15. “Nagasaaki heiwa sengen, 1990” (Nagasaki peace declaration for 1990), https://nagasakipeace.jp/japanese/appeal/history/1990.html; accessed, August 29, 2020. See also Tachibana (1995).

  16. See, e.g., Question by Toyokazu Ihara, Proceedings of the 4th Ordinary Meeting of 1994, Nagasaki City Council, September 12, 1994, http://www.city.nagasaki.nagasaki.dbsr.jp/index.php/9671948?Template=doc-one-frame&VoiceType=onehit&DocumentID=35; accessed, September 2, 2020.

  17. See, e.g., "Hibaku 50-shunen, Nagasaki no kao erabi wa konsen moyo" (Candidates appear locked in a tight race for the face of Nagasaki for the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing). Asahi Shimbun (Seibu edition), February 15, 1995.

  18. “Kaku no osoroshisa Kokusaishihosai de uttae e: Hiroshima, Nagasaski Mayors” (The Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to make statements about the horrors of nuclear weapons at the International Court of Justice). Asahi Shimbun, October 14, 1995.

  19. “Nagasaki-shicho, yureta Kokusaishihosai no kaku jinjutsu-an” (Nagasaki Mayor’s draft of his ICJ statement on nuclear weapons went through several revisions). Asahi Shimbun (Seibu edition), November 6, 1995.

  20. Mayor Ito also established an advisory committee on nuclear policy.

  21. See "Heiwa Shucho Kaigi kameitoshi su no suii (nenbetsu)" (Table showing the year-by-year increase in the number of Mayor for Peace member cities), May 1, 2021, http://www.mayorsforpeace.org/data/01_monthly_updating/05_membershipgrowth_all_jp.pdf; and "Mayors for Peace membership has exceeded its target of 5000," September 16, 2011, http://www.mayorsforpeace.org/data/03_newmembers/2011/110916_5000cities_en.pdf.

  22. Statement by Tomihisa Taue, Mayor of Nagasaki, Proceedings of the 4th Ordinary Meeting of 2010, Nagasaki City Council, September 9, 2010, http://www.city.nagasaki.nagasaki.dbsr.jp/index.php/8035907?Template=doc-oneframe&VoiceType=onehit&DocumentID=502.

  23. Statement by Tomihisa Taue, Mayor of Nagasaki, Proceedings of the 4th Ordinary Meeting of 2010; Nagasaki City Council, September 14, 2010, http://www.city.nagasaki.nagasaki.dbsr.jp/index.php/1411378?Template=doc-one-frame&VoiceType=onehit&DocumentID=505; accessed, January 26, 2021; my translation.

  24. Statement by Kazuya Okubo, Head, Peace Promotion Division, Proceedings of the Meeting of the Committee on Education and Welfare, Nagasaki City Council, March 7, 2018, http://www.city.nagasaki.nagasaki.dbsr.jp/index.php/4580556?Template=doc-one-frame&VoiceType=onehit&VoiceID=178079; accessed, January 26, 2021.

  25. Some of these factual details about the Nagasaki Peace Correspondent Program were provided by current and former staff of the Peace Promotion Division of the Nagasaki City Hall in August 2020.

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Acknowledgements

The research for this article would not have been possible without generous assistance provided by the following current and past city hall officials: Akitoshi Nakamura, former director of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, Mika Matsuo and Yayoi Minokawa in the Peace Promotion Division, Nagasaki City Hall, Takashi Morita, former director of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, Noboru Tasaki, a former official in the Peace Promotion Division, Nagasaki City Hall, Kenji Shiga, former director of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, and Katsunori Hamaoka and Kahori Wada at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Access to the university library and other resources provided by Hiroshima University during the summer of 2020 was also crucial to this project. I thank Itaru Nagasaka, Koki Seki, Ikumi Sumida, Megumi Watanabe, and Satoshi Watanabe for their generous support and Kahori Fujioka for her timely research assistance. Special thanks are due to Benjamin Leffel, Masaya Nemoto, and Annelise Riles, as well as to the three anonymous reviewers, for their invaluable comments on earlier drafts. I thank Alexandra De Leon for her assistance at various stages of this project.

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Miyazaki, H. Hiroshima and Nagasaki as models of city diplomacy. Sustain Sci 16, 1215–1228 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-021-00968-1

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Keywords

  • City diplomacy
  • Legitimacy
  • Nuclear disarmament
  • Hiroshima and Nagasaki