Hiroshima survivor Kondo Koko


Expanding perspectives through online learning and interactive webinars: Hiroshima-ICAN Academy 2021 (Part 1)

Jan 10, 2022

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and Hiroshima Prefecture co-hosted the third Hiroshima-ICAN Academy on Nuclear Weapons and Security Part 1 (online learning and webinars) between October 5 and 22, 2021. As an International Steering Group member of ICAN, Peace Boat plays a central role in the planning and organization of the Academy. The program this year selected 31 participants, including 15 from Nuclear Weapon States (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France and China) and 16 from other states (Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Norway and Pakistan).

Bringing humanitarian perspectives into nuclear weapons and security policies

Academy participants learned about the reality of the atomic bombings and international trends of nuclear weapons and global security through the below four themes:
-Humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons
-Political, legal, and technical aspects of nuclear weapons and global security
-Civil society in action, and
-Diplomacy for disarmament and security, and the role of the United Nations

Participants studied individually, utilising online learning materials provided by organisers including videos and reading materials. These included some documents and media already available to the public, as well as videos made exclusively for the Academy participants by guest educators.


Meeting Hibakusha and local and international experts

Through webinars, participants had the opportunity to meet with a Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor), as well as other local and international experts including academics, civil society activists, the Governor of Hiroshima and a representative of the United Nations.

In the first webinar on October 8, Kondo Koko and Gem Romuld joined together on the theme of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. Kondo Koko is an atomic bomb survivor and the daughter of Tanimoto Kiyoshi, a Methodist minister famous for his work with the Hiroshima Maidens. Her honest and personal story was deeply touching, and paved the way for participants to think about the humanitarian consequences of the nuclear weapons. After participants watched videos and read materials on harm suffered by First Nations communities, Gem Romuld, director of ICAN Australia, spoke on the humanitarian impact and colonial legacies of nuclear weapons testing and uranium mining in Australia.

The second webinar on October 12 focused on the political, legal and technical aspects of nuclear disarmament, building on the first webinar's examination of their humanitarian impact. Laura Considine of the University of Leeds and Nick Ritchie of the University of York, both specialists in nuclear disarmament and nuclear weapons politics, prepared an engaging session that examined deterrence and disarmament. Participants were encouraged in smaller groups and raised ideas such as the fallacy that nuclear weapons states and their leaders are always rational actors, the need to democratize disarmament, and the importance of shaking off cynicism and apathy.

The third webinar on October 15 featured ICAN Campaign Coordinator Daniel Hogsta and three civil society activists in Hiroshima: Mary Popeo, Tanaka Miho, and Fukuoka Nao. Participants discussed both the unique role of civil society in making change — such as through collaboration and bringing together diverse voices — and also the challenges that still exist as civil society campaigns for nuclear disarmament making use of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). In addition to learning about ICAN’s campaign strategies, participants also became more familiar with the gap between public opinion and the government position in Japan and what civil society members are doing to bridge this.

Prior to the fourth webinar, participants viewed the videos by diplomats from Jamaica, Norway, Canada and Japan, sharing their countries’ stances on nuclear disarmament and the TPNW.

The fourth webinar was held on October 22, featuring an engaging panel on nuclear disarmament with Hiroshima Prefecture Governor Yuzaki Hidehiko, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Nakamitsu Izumi, and ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn. The speakers shared valuable perspectives often neglected when people discuss disarmament, such as concrete progress made through the initiatives of diverse actors, as well as how civil society and government can work together. A main theme of the discussion was making nuclear disarmament a “personal” issue — one that we all have a stake in and all can impact.

Academy organizers were pleased to hear from participants that they were deeply touched by Kondo Koko’s first-hand, honest and personal account, which motivated them to learn the humanitarian perspectives of nuclear weapons. Building upon the experiences of previous editions of the Academy, online spaces to meet and discuss in smaller groups with fellow participants and guest educators were added this year. Organizers sincerely hope that participants found Part 1 informative and empowering to continue playing an active role in the global arena, pursuing various paths to together contribute to a peaceful world.

Further information about Part 2, originally scheduled as an in-person program to take place in March 2022, will be announced at a later date.

Organizers would like to express our special thanks to the three coordinators - Annelise Giseburt, Iwasaki Yumiko and Fukuoka Nao. Peace Boat staff members Kawasaki Akira and Watanabe Rika developed and organized the programme in cooperation with the Hiroshima Prefecture and the ICAN staff team in Geneva.


Relevant documents and links from the Academy 2021:

Programme Framework and Profiles of Guest Educators and Coordinators (PDF document)
Online learning materials: prepared by Hiroshima Prefecture and ICAN
* Some videos are password protected, for participants only