The "Global Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project" was held onboard the 100th Voyage, between December 26, 2018 - March 31, 2019, with the theme “From Banning to Abolishing Nuclear Weapons with the Power of Civil Society.” Ms. Watanabe Junko, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima who now lives in Brazil, joined the ship when it docked in Rio de Janeiro in February. Since then, she gave testimony at 7 ports in 6 countries while travelling around the southern hemisphere. Ms. Moriyama Kei, a third-generation Hibakusha from Hiroshima and youth communicator for this project, travelled the whole voyage from Japan and has been engaging in a range of activities with other participants on the ship to consider ways to pass on the legacy of the atomic bombings. This is a summary of some of the activities from the voyage.
On February 13, as the ship visited Montevideo in Uruguay, Peace Boat was welcomed by Vice President Lucia Topolansky. Uruguay ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2018. Upon hearing an introduction of the Peace Boat Hibakusha Project and our work together with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Ms. Topolansky showed her sympathy to this issue, stating that “your mission is very close to our mission.”
Ms. Watanabe shared her experience of being exposed to the black rain in Hiroshima when she was 2 years old. At 25, she moved to Brazil not aware that she was a Hibakusha. She learned from her parents that she was a Hibakusha, an atomic bomb survivor, only when she returned to Hiroshima at the age of 38. Sharing this story with Ms. Topolansky, Ms. Watanabe shed tears and reflected that when she saw footage of a mother and child in Hiroshima, that this could indeed have been her mother and herself. Since then she pledged to share her testimony, to achieve a nuclear-free world.
Ms. Topolansky gave Ms. Watanabe a warm hug, shared her memories of visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and spoke of the importance of using media such as manga and art to convey past tragedies.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
On February 15, Peace Boat's delegation was warmly welcomed by Mr. Guillermo Daniel Raidondi, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina.
Mr. Raidondi explained that Argentina has declared not to convert nuclear material from nuclear power plants into nuclear weapons. Peace Boat's delegation shared their message, urging Argentina to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Following this, Ms. Watanabe had the opportunity to meet local children. She shared the story of Sasaki Sadako, a young girl from Hiroshima who passed away due to atomic bomb-related disease. Following this, they together made paper cranes as a symbol of peace, and we were moved to hear one child express their intention to work for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
As the ship docked in Chile's Valparaiso on February 26, the group was welcomed by Ms. Carolina Torres, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Ms. Watanabe said in her testimony, “I will continue sharing my stories for the rest of my life so that we will not have any more atomic victims. Let's abolish nuclear weapons together.”
Ms. Torres replied that “your testimony made me strongly realize that we should not give up on nuclear abolition,” and explained that Chile is now working towards ratification of the nuclear weapons ban treaty, as one of the countries under South America's Nuclear Weapons Free Zone.
In Papeete on March 13, the delegation was welcomed by three members of Moruroa e tatou (MET), for a programme coordinated by Heiava Myrna Lenoir, who works on compensation for victims of nuclear testing at DSCEN (Delegation for the follow up of the aftermath of nuclear testing). As well as sharing their testimonies, the Peace Boat delegation had the opportunity to learn about projects to pass on the memory and legacy of victims of nuclear testing in Tahiti and the Pacific, as well as efforts to raise awareness. At the MET office inside Papeete's Maohi Protestant church, the group were able to meet with youth and student representatives, to discuss efforts to raise awareness and engage young and future generations. The delegation also paid tribute at Memorial of Taravao in Faaa City, with a minute's silence and dedication of flowers.
This was followed by several official engagements, including meeting with Mayor Oscar Temaru of Faaa, a former worker at the Moruroa test site himself, as well as five-time President of French Polynesia, and a courtesy visit with Mr Edouard Fritch, President of the Government, and several other representatives. The President warmly congratulated the Peace Boat delegation for their unwavering commitment to Peace, and wished them strength and courage to keep sharing their message of love and hope for a more peaceful world.
As Peace Boat was docked in the Samoan capital of Apia on March 19, the last port on the 100th Global Voyage, the Peace Boat Hibakusha Project delegation paid a visit to the office of the Honourable Prime Minister, Susuga Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. The group thanked the Prime Minister for Samoa's ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in September 2018, and its leadership in efforts for disarmament as well as sustainability. During the meeting, the Prime Minister also signed the Hibakusha Appeal, the international signature campaign in support of the appeal of the Hibakusha, the atomic bomb survivors of Hiroshima & Nagasaki, for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Youth communicator Ms. Moriyama is active in the field of theatre in Tokyo, creating works on the themes of the atomic bombing and nuclear energy. Based on her experience, Ms. Moriyama started a theatre club onboard Peace Boat's 100th Global Voyage, which involved more than 30 participants onboard.
She wrote an original script regarding Ms. Maruki Toshi, the renowned artist who together with her partner created enormous joint paintings between 1950 and 1982 that depict the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The play illustrated how Maruki Toshi struggled with balancing commitments to her political beliefs with artistic ideas.
As well as the performance of the play itself, theatre group members were involved with other participants onboard leading a series of events including display of the Nobel Peace Prize medal and diploma awarded to ICAN in 2017, and gathering signatures for the Hibakusha Appeal, creating opportunities for many onboard to consider nuclear weapons-related issues and find a way to be involved themselves.