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Sep 10, 2012 - Hiroshima in Israel: Hibakusha to give testimony in Israel during historic visit
Today 10 September, four Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) from Hiroshima arrived in Israel to give testimony for a week on the catastrophic human consequences of nuclear weapons. The four Hibakusha have been designated by the Japanese Government as "Special Communicators for a Nuclear-Free World," and will visit Israel as part of a project organised in cooperation with Peace Boat, the Israeli Disarmament Movement (RPM) and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Since 2008, Peace Boat has been carrying out the "Global Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World - Peace Boat Hibakusha Project," bringing more than one hundred and thirty Hibakusha to give testimony in Asia, Europe, Latin America, Oceania, the Middle East and at the United Nations.

This historic visit will be the first time for Hibakusha give testimony in this way to the Israeli public, and the first time that Israeli citizens will have the opportunity to hear their personal stories, first-hand accounts of atomic bomb survivors.

During the visit, the four Hibakusha will visit Yad Va-Shem (Israel's Holocaust Museum) and meet with survivors of the Holocaust to share testimonies. A similar meeting between Hibakusha and Holocaust survivors at Auschwitz formed part of the Hibakusha project on Peace Boat's 72nd Global Voyage in March 2011. The survivors of such terrible events in history relive their experiences and share their personal stories and pain in the hope that by doing so, history will never be repeated.

The Hibakusha, with their message of "No more Hiroshimas, no more Nagasakis," will make a call for Global Nuclear Abolition and place wishes calling for a world free of nuclear weapons in the Wailing Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. Public events in East Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa will also be held, where the survivors will share their testimonies. There will also be meetings with members of civil society, as well as with parliamentarians and mayors.

It is hoped that the visit of Hibakusha will stimulate discussion in Israel on nuclear weapons. This is especially vital in the lead up to the international conference to be held in Helsinki in December 2012 aiming for the establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and All Other Weapons of Mass Destruction (MENWMDFZ). Nuclear Weapons Free Zones already exist in a number of regions throughout the world, and establishing one in the Middle East would contribute to building stability in the region.

Peace Boat and the Israeli Disarmament Movement are cooperating towards the success of the conference in December within the the Horizon 2012 Project, launched by Peace Boat with participation of civil society representatives from around the Middle East region. The second Horizon 2012 conference was held earlier this year onboard Peace Boat's 75th Global Voyage, March 23-28 2012.

After visiting Israel, the delegation will join Peace Boat's 77th Global Voyage in Egypt, and sail to Turkey and Greece where they will also give testimony. The group will return to Japan on September 26.

Read more about Horizon 2012 here
Read more about the Global Voyage for a Nuclear Free World - Peace Boat Hibakusha Project here
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