The "Global Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project" aims to spread awareness of nuclear issues and promote the abolition of nuclear weapons. Since 2008, Peace Boat has invited over 170 Hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) onboard to deliver their powerful testimonies around the world. Two Hibakusha, Ms. Tsukamoto Michiko and Ms. Sora Tamiko, joined Peace Boat's 99th Global Voyage, during which they delivered testimonies to over 1200 people in 13 ports, and participated in various exchange activities.
Highlights from the voyage include testimony sessions held in Singapore, Croatia, Montenegro, Spain, England, Ireland, Iceland, New York, Peru and Mexico. In each country, the Hibakusha shared their personal stories with a variety of people: from peace and anti-nuclear activists pushing for change within their local governments, to curious students looking to understand the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from a more personal and deeply humanistic perspective. The Hibakusha also met with the mayor of Corfu, Greece, who signed on as a new member of Mayors for Peace, an international organization of municipal leaders supporting the active pursuit of nuclear abolition. The delegation met with the Vice-President of the Assembly of the Republic (Parliament) of Portugal, as well as with representatives of some political parties. Several MPs signed the ICAN Parliamentary Pledge. Hibakusha also held a side event at UN General Assembly's First Committee on disarmament, in support of Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Many of these activities are organised in cooperation with partners of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), 2017 Nobel Peace Prize recipient of which Peace Boat is an international steering group member. Throughout the voyage, a total of 1800 signatures were collected in support of the Hibakusha Appeal for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
In addition to in-port activities such as delivering testimonies, meeting with Parliamentarians, and attending press conferences, the Peace Boat Hibakusha Project has undertaken a new onboard initiative: the Orizuru Peace Guide Certification. Peace Boat recognizes the importance of preserving the wisdom of Hibakusha testimonies and passing it on to future generations. As a result, through a series of lectures, interviews with the Hibakusha and onboard workshops, the Peace Guide Certification initiative aims to inspire younger generations to work towards a nuclear-free world. To become a certified Peace Guide, participants are required to attend eight one-hour sessions explaining nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, and the historical background of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Furthermore, participants must share what they learned from the course's sessions and Hibakusha testimonies in a one-on-one interview. Each participant's interview lasts roughly 20 minutes, during which they have an opportunity to discuss a variety of nuclear-related issues.
The Orizuru Peace Guide Certification is open to all Peace Boat participants. While the majority of this voyage's participants are from Japan, they also come from Hong Kong, Canada, and the United States. Among them is Peace Boat passenger Kaneko Yumi, who joined the Orizuru Peace Guide Certification because her grandfather was a Hibakusha. She has been told stories about him since she was twelve years old and has always hoped to learn more about his experience. During Peace Guide training, Ms. Kaneko was most surprised after watching video interviews of the American pilots and soldiers involved with dropping the atomic bomb. Having been born and raised in Japan, she had only learned about the bombing from the Japanese perspective. After Peace Boat, Ms. Kaneko plans to share what she learned from the Orizuru Peace Guide training with her friends and family members back home - especially her younger cousin, who hasn't had an opportunity to learn from Hibakusha about the impact of nuclear weapons.
The Orizuru Peace Guide Certification is now a fundamental component of the Peace Boat Hibakusha Project and Peace Boat's commitment to creating a nuclear-free world. Efforts like this certification are imperative for preserving the wisdom and testimonies of those who were directly affected by nuclear warfare. Given that the average age of Hibakusha is over 80, and that roughly 15,000 nuclear weapons remain in the world, it is the responsibility of the newly certified Peace Guides to pass on Ms. Sora and Ms. Tsukamoto's message: "Don't fight nuclear wars! Get rid of nuclear weapons! No more Hibakusha. No more Hiroshima. No more Nagasaki."