News Archive
Jun 29, 2011 - Nuclear Abolition Day - Peace Boat Orizuru Project Forum 2011
Second generation Nagasaki Hibakusha Ms Sakaguchi reports on the 4th Hibakusha Project
In line with the annual global Nuclear Abolition Day on June 25, initiated by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Peace Boat organized the Orizuru Project Forum 2011 from 14:00 to 16:30 at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo. Nearly 80 participants gathered for an informational session regarding the project on this Saturday afternoon.

First, Ms Sakaguchi Hiroko, a second generation Hibakusha from Nagasaki, made a visual presentation reporting on the 4th "Global Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project," which took place from January-April this year onboard Peace Boat's 72nd Global Voyage. The photographs showed the various groups of people who interacted with the Hibakusha and Peace Boat participants throughout the journey, including both current and former presidents, Kings, University representatives, city Mayors, various NGOs, and students ranging from elementary to University levels. In addition, the Hibakusha Project members were well received by the media as "Ambassadors of Peace" and the Project was covered in over fifty television stations, newsprint and online media companies.

Nearly 80 participants gathered in Tokyo for the Orizuru Project Forum 2011
Some common questions received from audiences around the world after listening to the Hibakusha testimonies were: whether there is hatred towards the United States and its citizens as the nation responsible for dropping the Atomic bomb; whether there is still radiation present today in Nagasaki and Hiroshima; and whether the Hibakusha still suffer any effects from the A-bomb.

The Hibakusha are also active in voicing their opinions about the myth of Japan promoting nuclear energy as clean and safe energy, and how this myth was dismantled by the recent Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. They state the urgent need to transfer to alternative environmentally-friendly and renewable energy sources.

After the March 11 Great East Japan Great Earthquake and Tsunami, many people from around the world called out and sent their warm regards after learning that the Hibakusha Project members were Japanese. There were many touching moments during their global voyage, such as in the Philippines, when both children and elderly community members from Manila's urban poor community donated one peso each (the equivalent to a few yen) in wishes to contribute to the disaster relief efforts, in return to support Peace Boat provided after they were affected by the massive Typhoon Ondoy which hit the Philippines in 2009.

Ms Sakaguchi ended her report with an emphasis on the fact that humanity and nuclear weapons can not co-exist and that we must work together in swiftly creating a world with no nuclear arms.

Forum panelists (R-L) Mr Takase Tsuyoshi (author), Ms Ogami Sakurako (13th High School Peace Ambassador), Mr Hirai Shoso (4th Hibakusha Project participant), Mr Yoshida Kensuke (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), and Mr Kawasaki Akira (Peace Boat)
The segment which followed included a panel discussion with Mr Yoshida Kensuke (Representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan - Disarmament, Non-proliferation and Science Department), Mr Hirai Shoso (Hibakusha Participant on the 4th Hibakusha Project), Ms Ogami Sakurako (Representative of Nagasaki city's 13th High School Peace Ambassador Group), Mr Takase Tsuyoshi (Non-fiction author and Second-generation Hibakusha), and Mr Kawasaki Akira (Peace Boat Representative).

Mr Hirai is an atomic bomb survivor from Hiroshima who tragically lost both his younger brother and father to the A-bomb. All that was left of his father was a skull that was found beside a crushed bicycle at his workplace. Until today, the only thing that remains of his younger brother is one single photograph. Years later, Mr Hirai's mother passed away painfully from cancer, but there was no conclusive proof that the cancer was caused by effects of the atomic bomb. It was noted by others that the testimonial work of the Hibakusha is not only extremely necessary and a powerful tool, but also very courageous of the survivors.

Other points raised included the obvious linkages between the Atomic bombs which fell nearly 7 decades ago, and the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in Japan this year. The lessons which the Hibakusha survivor representatives remind us of are not being effectively disseminated and turned into knowledge for people in Japan now around the world. Writer Mr Takase noted that this can be seen by the panic from the public, and confusion and misuse even by the media of the words houshasen (nuclear radiation) and houshanou (radioactivity). Another subject which was brought up was that the children from Fukushima who moved to other prefectures are being bullied and avoided by other students, who falsely believe that radiation can not be transferred by human contact. The Hiroshima and Nagasaki Hibakusha who were lucky to survive the bombings and after-effects were also victims of avoidance and discrimination, and the grave nature and unfortunate reality of the present situation was brought to light.

Ms Ogami is one of the High School Peace Ambassador for the city of Nagasaki, but is now a University student. To her left, Hibakusha Mr Hirai on behalf of the other Hibakusha expressed sincere gratitude to Mr Yoshida and MOFA for participating in the forum.
After more discussion amongst participants and panellists, including one Hibakusha mentioning his experience meeting with Korean students who were not able to see eye to eye with Hibakusha claiming to be victims when Japan was the wrongdoer, the forum came to an end. Perhaps it is best to conclude with a suggestion by High School Peace Ambassador Ms Ogawa, who promotes the need for more opportunities where different groups, especially of opposing ideas, can see eye to eye and converse together. This forum also brought many people together from various demographics into one room to listen to the guest speakers and seriously consider the very present and realistic issues brought up by their testimonies. It is vital that Ms Ogami, along with others from younger generations, continue their efforts to share the lessons which this project and the Hibakusha themselves leave to us.

Documents for download
Global Hibakusha Forum Youth Statement (English)Global Hibakusha Forum Youth Statement (Japanese)