Welcome Remarks at the GNRC Third Forum Opening Ceremony
by Dr. Tadatoshi Akiba, Mayor of the City of Hiroshima
I would like to offer my thoughts on the occasion of the Third Forum of the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC). First, on behalf of Hiroshima's 1.16 million citizens, let me express my deep respect to all the people involved in the organization of this Forum, including the Arigatou Foundation, and extend my heartfelt welcome to all of you who came from all around the world.
The GNRC was launched in 2000 by the Arigatou Foundation, which called for people of faith from around the world to go beyond religious differences to work together for children, in the belief that building an environment where children of the world can grow up safe and sound is the mission of religious people.
The City of Hiroshima has been working to create a city in which the entire community supports the raising of children. The support policy for children and families was revised in 2005, encouraging families to have and nurture children in a sense of security. For providing the improved child-raising environment, "The New Child Development Plan of Hiroshima" was developed, guided by the principle of "children living their own lives with a smile." Since last year, the City has been considering establishing an ordinance on the rights of the child, in keeping with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in order to realize a society where children can grow up in both spiritual and physical health and where their rights are valued.
It is indeed significant that the Third Forum of the GNRC, under the theme of "Learning to Share," is taking place here in Hiroshima starting today.
Currently the world has various issues threatening peace such as oppression and infringement of human rights, famine, poverty, destruction of the environment, terrorism and civil war, which are causing suffering to an enormous number of people including children. To build genuine peace, the human race as a whole must tackle not only these issues but also the abolition of nuclear weapons. I believe that the most important thing to create a common future for humankind is to value the spirit of "reconciliation," to reject violence, and to seek a path of peace in which all challenges can be resolved with reason and conscience.
Atomic bomb survivors, having experienced the atrocities of the atomic bomb and "the end of the world" themselves and upholding the strong faith that "we cannot let anyone else have the same experience!", continue to call for lasting world peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons in the spirit of "reconciliation." The City of Hiroshima believes that it has the responsibility to spread this philosophy and to generate a strong desire to abolish nuclear weapons. The City of Hiroshima is conducting a global campaign entitled "2020 Vision" that aims at the total abolition of nuclear weapons by the year 2020 in collaboration with NGOs, UN agencies, and "Mayors for Peace" from 2,226 member cities in 129 countries and regions.
This Forum, starting with a "Prayer for Peace," has as its purpose to consider the future of children and to create a world with children where people can share and support each other, which is indeed significant in leading to this spirit of "reconciliation." I hope this Forum will become a strong force enabling children to inherit a peaceful Earth. I also hope that the young people who are participating to resolve to work together with all people to tackle our problems and to ensure true peace.
Let me finish with my prayer for the success of this forum and health and happiness of all participating in it.