Throughout the month of July, Peace Boat held a series of four online events together with Hibakusha living in different countries, in order to share their testimony and urgent message with people around the world in multiple languages. Marking the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, these were conducted in cooperation with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
See the end of this article for links to the videos of each testimony session.
As the first event, Setsuko Thurlow gave her testimony on July 7, the anniversary of the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Speaking in English from Toronto, Canada, the session was held with simultaneous interpretation into Chinese and French. Yamashita Yasuaki in Mexico then shared his story on July 15, in a session conducted entirely in Spanish, welcoming also Dr. Carlos Umaña, Vice-President of the International Physicians to Prevent Nuclear War (IPPNW) Latin America and fellow member of the ICAN International Steering Group. Next was Morita Takashi on July 23, speaking from Sao Paolo Brazil. Mr. Morita was also joined by Watanabe Junko and Bonkohara Kunihiko, fellow Hibakusha also based in Brazil. The three spoke about their lives in Japanese, with Portuguese interpretation. Lastly, Lee Jongkeun gave his testimony in Japanese with Korean and English interpretation on July 31.
Yamashita Yasuaki giving testimony from his house in Mexico City
"Nuclear weapons and humanity cannot co-exist, and the mistake must never be repeated."
Each Hibakusha shared their story with incredible emotion and strength in their voices, touching all those listening. They strongly stated that nuclear weapons and human beings cannot co-exist. Further, they stressed that the mistake of using atomic bombs must never be repeated, so that no one else will experience the suffering they have lived through.
Over one hundred people joined each of these sessions, including active discussion and heartwarming messages to the Hibakusha from those participating. Some asked about the current physical condition of the survivors, how they have been treated in their new home countries, how they see the role of youth, and how they are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. Setsuko Thurlow said she is always inspired by the creativity, energy and talent of young people, bringing her hope. Mr. Yamashita repeatedly said that he has never been discriminated against in Mexico, whether due to his past or his origin. Ms. Watanabe likened radiation to COVID-19, both being invisible threats which cannot be smelled or touched, and the necessity for the world leaders to take both issues seriously. Mr. Morita emphasised that he harbours no negative feelings toward those who dropped the bomb, and all that this world needs is love for one another. Mr. Lee Jongkeun shared his own history, including that he started to share his testimony and use his real Korean name after first joining Peace Boat in 2012, because he wanted the world to know that there are Hibakusha who are not Japanese and about their suffering.
Morita Takashi giving testimony from his house in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with his daughter interpreting his message into Portuguese
Peace Boat would like to thank all those who made these events possible, and those who joined them from around the world. These events were also connected to similar initiatives, such as ICAN Australia's webinar "Trinity: 75 years on from the first nuclear explosion" held on July 16 July - the 75th anniversary of the first nuclear explosion, code-named “Trinity,” which paved the way for the nuclear incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki a few weeks later. In this remarkable event, Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium gave testimony, joined by Hiroshima survivor Kondo Koko and Karina Lester, Yankunytjatjara-Anangu a second-generation survivor of nuclear testing in Australia.
To learn more about the Hibakushas' experiences and how you can stand together with them, click here to see the special homepage established by ICAN to mark their 75th anniversaries.
Lee Jongkeun sharing his testimony from Hiroshima, Japan
Watch the video fo each online testimony session below.
Hear the Voices of Survivors: Testimony by Ms Setsuko Thurlow (English language)
Escucha las Voces de los Sobrevivientes: Testimonio del señor Yamashita (Testimony session in Spanish)
ヒバクシャの声を聞く‐ 森田隆さんの証言 (Testimony session in Japanese and Portuguese)
ヒバクシャの声を聞く‐ 李鐘根（イ・ジョングン）さんの証言 (Testimony session in Japanese)