May 26, 2023

Hiroshima to the world: How to achieve peace


Session 1 of the forum, “The importance of information for peace and the role of information companies”

Ahead of the Group of Seven’s Hiroshima summit, the 2023 Hiroshima Business Forum for Global Peace was held on April 20 at the Hilton Hiroshima. Organized by the Hiroshima Organization for Global Peace (HOPe), the event aimed to contribute to the realization of a peaceful international society by communicating from Hiroshima to the world about the importance of peace as a prerequisite for business.

At the forum, which began in 2013 and now has been held eight times, economic experts exchanged their views on world peace under the theme of contributing to peace through the international social economy and business in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The event was also livestreamed for a remote audience.

The forum began with addresses by Hiroshima prefectural Gov. Hidehiko Yuzaki and Takeshi Niinami, the chief executive officer of Suntory Holdings Ltd. Two years from now will mark the 80th anniversaries of the Hiroshima atomic bombing and the end of World War II. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the end of the war, the power of business to create a sustainable world will grow even more important. “For this purpose, it is essential for the business community to work together,” said Yuzaki. Niinami noted that nearly 30 years have passed since the end of the Cold War, and we have benefited greatly from the optimism of globalism. However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has set off a chain reaction of conflicts between nations that we thought were in the past. He said: “We are by no means helpless. We hope to learn what we can do at a forum like this, and that our business colleagues will join us in taking action.”

Serhii Plokhy, the Mykhailo Hrushevsky professor of Ukrainian history and the director of Ukrainian research institute at Harvard Univer-sity, was invited as a keynote speaker and spoke on the historical aspects of the conflict and its impact on the world.

Two sessions took place, focused on the themes “The importance of information for peace and the role of information companies” and “How to tackle the weaponization of the economics (energy, food, etc.).”

Serhii Plokhy, a professor of history and director of Harvard University’s Ukrainian Research Institute.

Hidehiko Yuzaki, the governor of Hiroshima prefecture.

21st-century challenges

In the keynote speech, the internationally renowned Plokhy unraveled the historical perspective of what is happening in the world today, and what could happen. He said history provides not only insight into the past, but also a way to understand what is happening now, think about possible future scenarios, and act accordingly. Plokhy believes Russia will be weakened militarily, economically and politically.

“To ensure that nuclear wars and conflicts are not repeated in the world to come, now is the time to look back at history and consider not only what we did wrong, but also what we did right,” he said. “The leaders of business communities have their role to play. And I am sure that in the new era, that role will be as positive as it was during the Cold War.”

Information for peace

In the first session, Jun Murai, a distinguished professor at Keio University, John V. Roos, a founding partner of Geodesic Capital Inc. and former U.S. ambassador to Japan, and Masaru Seo, the president of SlowNews Inc., discussed disinformation and its countermeasures, and the role of business in contributing to peace by addressing global challenges.

Correct information is critical in both peacetime — business, government, daily life — and emergencies. “The issue of cognitive warfare and hybrid warfare, which has been recognized as a major challenge around the world, including Japan, in the context of Russia’s military beliefs in Ukraine, is proving to be extremely difficult to address,” said moderator Ryosuke Nishida, an associate professor in the Institute for Liberal Arts at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

Seo spoke about the perspective of journalism and the demand for news coverage, noting that “social networking and video dissemination will have a major impact in warfare.” Murai talked about technical aspects of technology and political issues related to it.

Roos spoke about the role played by American companies and the importance of transparency. He praised the amazing promise of technology for the information society but also pointed out risks such as misinformation and disinformation, nativism, cyberattacks and network vulnerabilities. He suggested that it is important for the public and private sectors to work together to promote transparency and accountability, leading to the promotion and earning of trust.

Weaponization of economics

In the second session, discussions were held on the theme of how to face the weaponization of economics in areas such as energy and food. Nobu Koshiba, the chairman emeritus of JSR Corp. and vice chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, Kazuto Suzuki, a professor in the Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Tokyo and director of the Institute of Geoeconomics at the International House of Japan, and Sumiko Takeuchi, a member of the board of directors of the International Environment and Economy Institute and a co-president of U3Innovations LLC, participated as panelists, with Kohey Takashima, the president of Oisix ra daichi Co. Ltd. and vice chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, serving as moderator. Economic interdependence has long been seen as necessary to maintain peace, but economic weaponization is on the rise as nations become more confrontational and competitive. Takashima said all areas are facing a tipping point. While it is difficult for Japan to provide all of its energy and food needs alone, Suzuki said, it is important to increase self-sufficiency and resilience to external influences.

The program concluded with a closing review of the session by Yoshimitsu Kaji — the chairman and chief sustainable development officer of Cinnamon AI, a senior principal at the Hitachi Lumada Innovation Hub and a Kamakura smart city architect — Suntory Holdings’ Niinami and Gov. Yuzaki.

The world now faces various complex issues and problems, such as the threat to peace posed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the increasingly serious U.S.-China issues. Niinami asked the Hiroshima audience to think about what Japan can do and what kind of world we should strive for. To that end, it is important to bring together countries that share the same values, such as democracy, and work toward the realization of a peaceful, economically viable and prosperous society.

Yuzaki spoke about the significance of the G7 meeting being held in Hiroshima at a time when peace is being challenged. “Human power can be used for destruction, and Hiroshima is a place that represents that threat. Peace brings prosperity. It is the power of the economy that creates this prosperity, and I would like to send such a message from Hiroshima to the world,” he said.

Closing the 2023 Hiroshima Business Forum for Global Peace, Kaji said, “We will do our best to make this conference have a greater impact in 2025,” the 80th anniversary of the atomic bombing, “and send a message of peace from Hiroshima.”


広島県尾道市から愛媛県今治市までの60kmを、6つの島をまたぎ橋でつながる「しなまみ海道」をご存じだろうか? この自動車専用道路は、自転車の通行が可能で、海の上をサイクリングできることから、世界中からサイクリストがこの街を訪れる。そんな尾道にはサイクリスト専用ホテル〈HOTEL CYCLE〉(複合施設〈Onomichi U2〉内)がある。このホテルの特筆すべきは室内にも自転車を持ち込める点だ。ここは愛車と共に眠りにつくことができる至福のホテルなのだ。


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