Peace Boats 92nd Global Voyage departed from Yokohama with the atmosphere on deck warm and optimistic. Though the route for the current voyage is well planned, the true map of this journey will be written by the participants, staff and guest educators who will be on board for 104 days as they travel the world. The theme of the 92nd voyage is 'peace beyond borders', with an emphasis on building a nuclear free world.
Prior to the ship's departure, a press conference was held to unveil the new a 6m tall and 4.5m wide official United Nations Sustainable Development Goals logo painted on the side of the ship. The SDGs, as follow-ups of the MDGs implemented in 2000, are a set of 17 goals set by the United Nations on issues such as poverty and hunger, energy, climate change and peace, which all need to be resolved in order to create a sustainable global society. As an NGO with Special Consultative Status with the ECOSOC of the United Nations, Peace Boat will be an official campaigner of the SDGs and hopes to inspire each country visited during the voyage to make an active engagement to reaching the goals. Events will be held onboard the ship and in ports throughout the 92nd Voyage to raise awareness of these goals.
"After a few days of undecided weather, Peace Boat leaves port on a sunny day" said H.E. Mr. Marcos Fermin Rodriguez Costa, Ambassador of Cuba to Japan, guest of honour at the departure ceremony from Yokohama port. "Peace makes the journey possible, and Peace Boat has been in solidarity with Cuba at its hardest times" he told the participants and well-wishers. The 92nd Voyage is the first voyage to visit Cuba since it began the process of normalizing relations with the USA and the first voyage to visit both Cuba and the United States on the same route making it a particularly exciting and historical venture.
Peace Boat's 92nd voyage will host Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) from Hiroshima and Nagasaki on board for the 9th time as part of the "Global Voyage for a Nuclear Free World: Hibakusha Project" which will pass on the experiences of survivors to the next generations. Global attention on the humanitarian aspects of nuclear weapons is now at a peak, with the UN working group on the day of the ship's departure from Kobe voting to recommend starting negotiating a treaty banning nuclear weapons in 2017. Building upon this momentum, the Global Hibakusha Project will work to pass the message of Hibakusha as they appeal, around the world, for a ban on nuclear weapons and their abolition.
As in previous voyages, this voyage will host not only first generation survivors, but also two Youth Communicators for a Nuclear-Free World as well as a second generation survivor and one legacy messenger, known in Japanese as "keishosha," or one who passes on the memory and message, trained to deliver Hibakusha's memories and experiences to a wide variety of people. All members of the Hibakusha project will give testimonies and lectures on board and in ports along the voyage, and will participate in a special testimony event at the UN headquarters in New York. "Most people my age have no information at all about nuclear weapon and I am very interested to experience and participate in the ways this subject is being engaged"" says Samukawa Tomoki, a 19 year old student from Kobe who joined the Hibakusha Project as a Youth Communicator and will travel with the Hibakusha during the entire voyage. ''It is very difficult and maybe not the most engaging subject he says, but the Hibakusha will not be with us forever, so I am happy to take the opportunity to share time with them, and to make sure that their story will be heard"
Many exciting guest educators will join Peace Boat's 92nd Voyage, from different places and disciplines. One of those joining from Yokohama is Sukegawa Durian, a clown, poet, singer and writer who will hold a series of workshops onboard which will provide Peace Boat participants with writing and singing techniques, to express themselves and their experiences throughout the voyage. This is not the first time for Sukegawa to join Peace Boat. He previously participated in a voyage which took place immediately after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
Sukegawa talks about the uniqueness of the 92nd voyage which will sail through the Aurora Belt off the coast of Iceland as one of its highlights and defines it as a positive, optimistic voyage. "As I see it the 92th voyage is around the gifts of nature, and I am happy to take part on a journey with such subject, and will also mention it in my lectures on board".
Rain falls on Kobe as Peace Boat gets ready for its final departure from Japan, bringing participants inside. The undecided weather may have changed plans regarding to the whereabouts of the second departure ceremony, but not the goal of this voyage, to bring people from all around the world together in message of peace and sustainability. The 92nd Global Voyage Director led a toast "kampai" in Japanese to all the participants on board, as Peace Boat start sailing in direction of Taiwan, the first destination of the 92nd Global Voyage.