From the Ship
Promoting Peace through Sharing Stories and Music - Atomic Bomb Survivors Visit Venezuela
As Peace Boat's 94th Voyage for Peace and Sustainability was docked in the city of La Guaira in Venezuela, an event was held onboard with the theme to realise a nuclear-free world. This formed part of the Global Voyage for a Nuclear Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project taking place on the voyage where atomic bomb survivors are travelling around the world to give their testimonies of the bombings and appeal for nuclear weapons to be abolished.
The event took place just the United Nations is convening negotiations in 2017 on "a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination". This new international agreement will place nuclear weapons on the same legal footing as other weapons of mass destruction, which have long been outlawed. The negotiations are taking place negotiations at UN headquarters in New York 15 June to 7 July with the participation of governments, international organizations and civil society. In attendance at the onboard event were children from local schools, government officials and representatives from civil society organisations. The occasion began with traditional Venezuelan dancing from performers of a dance school in Vargas State. A number of government officials, including Maria Carneiro, First Combatant of Vargas State and Adrian Edisson, from the Venezuelan Ministry for Youth, were presented with paper crane necklaces - a symbol of peace - to thank them for their support of the Hibakusha project.
Yamamura Norie, a second-generation Hibakusha then shared experiences of her mother and father, who were both exposed to radiation following the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. She told of learning that the flame of peace that burns at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima will be extinguished the day that atomic bombs are abolished. She expressed her hope that she will see that flame stop burning in her lifetime. Yamamura also called upon those present to take actions towards achieving a peaceful world. In the evening, a ceremony and concert for peace was held at the Municipal Theatre in Caracas. At the ceremony Katiuska Rodriquez from the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasised that this sixteenth time for Peace Boat to visit Venezuela reaffirms the importance of peace, love and dialogue. 94th Voyage Director Tamura Miwako also called on the people of Venezuela to work with Peace Boat towards the vision of nuclear weapon abolition.
This message was echoed by Hibakusha Tanaka Toshiko who shared that she joined the Hibakusha project to ensure humanity would never again experience the devastation of atomic bombs. With government and embassy officials in attendance, she also asked for their support in signing the UN nuclear weapon ban treaty.
Introducing the musical element of the evening, Freddy Ñañez from the Ministry of Culture, spoke of how music can promote peace. The concert included a performance by Peace Boat participants of the Shakuhachi (traditional Japanese wooden flute) and a choir of participants joined the Caracas Municipal Symphony Orchestra for a number of songs. 20 members of orchestra had been on the 94th Global Voyage from Yokohama, Japan; during which time they had performed concerts, given musical lessons to participants and taken part in many onboard events. Peace Boat participant Andy Cheong from Malaysia said of the concert "I saw the unity between the Venezuelan people in the orchestra and those singing in the choir from Peace Boat". The opportunities to exchange music and culture throughout the day were evident tools for peace building.