Port of Call
Peace Boat Visits Valencia to Raise Awareness about the Need for a Nuclear Ban, May 25, 2017
Hibukusha at the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia.
Peace Boat's 94th Global Voyage for Peace also encompasses the 10th Global Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project. This is where Hibakusha (survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings) join Peace Boat voyages travelling around the world to give their testimonies and appeal for a nuclear-free world. May 15, 2017 saw Hibakusha visit the city of Valencia in Spain. This is the fourth of 19 ports they will be visiting with the message to abolish nuclear weapons while sharing their experiences to illustrate the inhumanity of using such weapons.

Tanaka Toshiko is interviewed by Spanish media.
In the morning, Hibakusha visited the Regional Parliament offices that are responsible for the towns of Valencia, Alicante and Castellón. They were welcomed by the President of the Chamber, Enric Morera i Catal. Tanaka Toshiko, a survivor of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, gave her testimony and detailed how her family had been living at the hypocentre where the bomb struck on August 6, 1945, but six days previously her family had moved a few kilometres away. On the day the bomb dropped, she was on her way to school. When the strike happened she saw a flash of light and tried to hide her head. She was under the atomic cloud, and was exposed to radiation. All her friends from the neighbourhood died, with 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 70,000 in Nagasaki passing away within the year as a result of the nuclear bombs. Tanaka continues to suffer from the effects of radiation today. She therefore had a plea: "We cannot have this happen again to anybody in the world."

Mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribó Canut and Hibakusha, Mise Seiichiro, shake hands after having signed the Hibakusha appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Valencia City Hall was the next venue for the Hibakusha, who were welcomed by the Mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribó Canut, and Councillor for Cooperation and Development and a Member of the Regional Parliament, Roberto Jaramillo. Mayor Canut addressed the gathering, saying "with the Peace Boat coming to Valencia, you bring this message of peace, which I am very happy to receive." He highlighted that Hibakusha are living testimonies of the tragedy of nuclear weapons, and that violence does not resolve anything. "We don't need nuclear weapons, we don't need war, we need leaders to protect human rights and we need to continue to have dialogue," he added. He finished by saying "as the Mayor of Valencia, I have just signed the declaration to support the treaty to ban nuclear weapons. I would like the Spanish government to participate in the UN negotiations, and I would like to send this message to the Prime Minister of Spain, and I wish the resolution will be accepted and we can build peace."

Asadollah Mohammadi gives his testimony as a survivor of chemical weapons used during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
Late afternoon saw Hibakusha attend Colegio Mayor Rector Peset, part of the University of Valencia, where a conference was held to raise awareness among students and the general public about the humanitarian impact of weapons. The conference included testimonies from those directly affected by war - Hibakusha Tsuchida Kazumi (survivor of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima) and Asadollah Mohammadi (who was exposed to chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s). Mohammadi and three other chemical weapon survivors had been on the ship from Piraeus in Greece, sharing with Peace Boat participants the impact of chemical weapons in warfare. Asadollah Mohammadi explained that, as a survivor of chemical weapons, he has had to have many operations and has a condition with an injured lung which makes it very difficult to breath. "Besides my physical condition, I have severe psychological problems. My family and those around me are very worried I might die," he added. He also revealed that about 70,000 survivors of chemical weapons are still suffering the after effects in Iran today. He ended with the message "my wish is to create a world without chemical or nuclear weapons."

Arcadi Oliveres, an economist and peace activist, speaks about civil society taking action to ban nuclear weapons.
Arcadi Oliveres, a professor at Universitat Autnoma de Barcelona, economist and peace activist who attended the conference, emphasized the need for Spain to accept a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, and unite with the Hibakusha to increase action against nuclear weapons. "By having nuclear weapons, a country can threaten other countries, and this cycle could continue," he warned. He also spoke of the need for civil society to continue to take action to ban nuclear weapons, giving the example of Hibakusha collecting signatures to see the ban realized. Jordi Calvo, Coordinator at the Centre d'Estudis per la Pau (an NGO and independent centre of research on issues related to disarmament and peace), ended the session by talking about hope. At the time of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was said "there is no alternative," but he highlighted that there have since been many international discussions regarding this claim and we now know there were indeed other options. He stressed that we are at a turning point regarding nuclear weapons, military spending and the threat that exists around the world; that we need to realize there are difficult options and choices. However, we should not be fooled there is no other option, "we need to give hope and work towards realizing that hope," he said.