Special Report
For a world free of nuclear weapons: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project onboard the 98th Voyage, Aug 12, 2018
The three Hibakusha, former Australian Senator Scott Ludlam, and Peace Boat staff Kawasaki Akira and Daniel Read outside the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The "Global Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project," whereby the ship carries Hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) around the world to deliver their stories and messages, has been a core feature of Peace Boat since the project's inception in 2008. Over 170 hibakusha have participated in the programme to date, which now carries particular significance the awarding of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, in which Peace Boat plays a central role. Peace Boat's 98th voyage is the first round-the-world voyage to take place since ICAN was awarded the prize, and thus the first voyage to carry the Nobel Peace Prize medal and diploma onboard onboard the ship.

From left to right: Shinagawa Kaoru, Ueda Koji and Kuramori Terumi in Bergen, Norway after meeting with the Deputy Mayor.
Three Hibakusha are participating in the 98th Global Voyage: Ueda Koji, Kuramori Terumi, and Shinagawa Kaoru. Mr Ueda was three years old when the bomb was dropped on his home city of Hiroshima; Ms Kuramori was one year old when the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, and Mr Shinagawa is a second generation Hibakusha, whose mother was 25 when she experienced the bombing of Hiroshima. All three have been activists long before they became involved with Peace Boat, speaking at schools, attending related conferences, and guiding visitors. Mr Ueda additionally served as the Deputy General of the Tokyo A-Bomb Survivor Association, and the Secretary General of the Hachioji A-Bomb Survivor Association.

Peace Boat participants read exerts of poetry about the bombing before a testimony by Kuramori Terumi.
Throughout the voyage, the three Hibakusha have given numerous talks and participated in various events on board. All three shared their testimony of how the bomb affected them and their families, not only in August 1945, but in the decades that followed, as the survivors continued to struggle with the trauma, illnesses, and discrimination that followed the initial blasts. The Hibakusha have also been leading an ongoing study group of "Peace Guides", young people who are training to be able to effectively carry on the Hibakusha's message to the next generations.

The Hibakusha and Kawasaki Akira meet with Iceland's Foreign Minister in Reykjavik.
Ueda, Kuramori, and Shinagawa have been busy when the ship has stopped in ports as well. On land, the Hibakusha have given educational talks and workshops, and met with diplomats and policy makers throughout the 22 countries in which the ship has docked. Much of their work is encouraging policy makers to support the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), adopted by the United Nations just over one year ago. As of August 2018, 14 countries have ratified the treaty, and a total of 50 is required for the treaty to become international law. The treaty, says Ueda, is "like a dream come true for Hibakusha", and all three have voiced their desire to see it fully realized in their lifetimes, as so many Hibakusha were unable to live to see a nuclear-free era.

Kuramori Terumi gives testimony on behalf of herself and another friend, also a Hibakusha.
By traveling the world educating others and meeting with policy makers to push for the nuclear ban treaty, Peace Boat and the Hibakusha hope to spread awareness of the importance ridding the world of these inhumane weapons, and to personalize an issue that can run the risk of becoming dry history text to those outside Japan."I think the first time I met Hibakusha was in 2008," says Scott Ludlam, a former Australian Senator and ambassador for ICAN. "It changes your life in a subtle way. [...] Being able to hear directly from people who suffered the impacts and consequences of nuclear weapons in a way has been the foundation of the abolition campaign since the very start." The sentiment was echoed by Ms Kuramori in a recent testimony she gave: "I hope that in the future, when you remember that you travelled with Peace Boat, you remember that you met a nuclear bomb survivor, and you remember my story."

Read the full project overview here, and profiles of participants here.