Port of Call
Atomic Bomb Survivors (Hibakusha) Visit Cozumel, Mexico, Nov 6, 2017
Mrs Kimura and Ms Urata with the attendees of the event.
Atomic bomb survivor Kimura Tokuko gave testimony about her experience living through the bombing of Nagasaki at the city hall of Cozumel, Mexico when Peace Boat made its port of call there on 23 October, 2017. Survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are called hibakusha, and since 2008 Peace Boat has invited hibakusha to travel around the world and give personal testimonies about the effects of the atomic bombs and call for nuclear abolition. The project is called the Global Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project. Mrs Kimura was joined by Urata Shion, a young artist based in Kyoto who creates artwork with social meaning; she is a third-generation hibakusha whose paternal grandfather was also in Nagasaki during the bombing.

The explanation of ICAN, winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
While Mrs Kimura and Ms Urata were traveling with Peace Boat, it was announced that the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize would be granted to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). ICAN is a network of over 450 organizations in over 100 countries, and Peace Boat has been part of ICAN and its leadership since its inception. Also this year, on 7 July, the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons was passed at the United Nations and adopted by 122 UN member states. Hibakusha like Mrs Kimura have played a large role in making the horrific nature of nuclear weapons known throughout the world, and their courage has helped make the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty possible. It is hoped that the Peace Prize, and the continued efforts of hibakusha and organizations like ICAN, can encourage more governments to adopt the treaty.

Mr. Takashi introducing the Hibakusha Project.
Mrs Kimura and Ms Urata were introduced by Michelle Gonzalez Avila of the Cozumel Mayor's Office to a crowd of about 80 school children and others from the town and city hall. To start off the event, Peace Boat's Takashi Sakuma, Coordinator for the Hibakusha Project, explained the goals of the project and its activities until now. He also introduced the activities of ICAN, and the news that the organization had recently won the Peace Prize was met with enthusiastic applause by the audience. A video was then shown featuring testimonies from other hibakusha who participated in the project in the past.

Mrs Kimura giving her testimony about the bombing of Nagasaki.
Mrs Kimura then took the stage to give her testimony. Before speaking about her memories of the day, she introduced basic information about the bombing; that, on 9 August 1945, an atomic bomb codenamed Fat Man was dropped over the city of Nagasaki by a B29 and was detonated at an altitude of about 500 meters. The explosion raised the temperature in the sky to 4000C and released radiation over the city. She explained that she was ten years old at the time, living with five family members and on summer vacation from school. A brick wall fell onto her during the explosion, but she was able to escape and make it to a bomb shelter. She recalled seeing those who were escaping from the explosion, with swollen red faces, burnt hair, and their clothing burned to their skin. They asked for water but ceased to breath shortly after drinking some. She explained about life after the war too, and how those who lived through the bombings have had to deal with the consequences for the rest of their lives; later in life, when she was married and pregnant, she had to consider whether her exposure to the atomic bomb would have an effect on her child.

Ms Urata explaining about her fight for social change.
The event continued with a speech from Ms Urata followed by a question and answer session. Ms Urata is 23 years old and part of the project as a Youth Communicator for a Nuclear Free World. She talked about how her grandfather lived through the bombing but died of cancer at 57, and how her father also worried about dying at a young age as a result. She explained that she had a strong emotional reaction when hearing about the Iraq War as a young child, and it motivated her to fight to solve social problems. Today she uses her artwork towards the same goals. Finally, Mrs Kimura and Ms Urata answered questions from the school children and others in attendance before bidding farewell to the children and the rest of the audience.