APEC Junior Conference opens: Let us change the world from Hiroshima

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

On February 20, the opening ceremony of the 2010 APEC Junior Conference in Hiroshima, for which youths from member nations and regions of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) have gathered in the A-bombed city of Hiroshima, was held in the east wing of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. For four days through February 23, 37 youths from 19 APEC member nations and regions, with the exclusion of those from New Zealand and Hong Kong, will face regional issues from the standpoint of youth and develop an action plan with proposals for solving these issues.

At the opening ceremony, the participants climbed to the platform, welcomed by the performance of five players from the brass band club at Hiroshima Prefectural Aki Fuchu High School in Fuchu Town, Hiroshima. As representatives of the participants, Moeko Fujii, 16, a second-year student at Shibuya Senior and Junior High School in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, and Richi Miyake, 16, a first-year student at Shudo High School in Naka Ward, Hiroshima, declared the opening of the conference.

The main theme of the conference is "Our Future, the Earth's Future: Creating a Peaceful, Prosperous Society." The participants will exchange views with one another in English at plenary sessions and workshops on four themes, including the environment; education; intercultural communication/understanding; and trade, food and poverty. They will then compile their proposals and their action plan into a declaration for adults. On February 23, the final day of the conference, they will hand the declaration to the chair of the APEC Japan 2010 Senior Officials' Meeting I (SOM I), which is being convened at the same time in Hiroshima.

Kang Dong-woo, from South Korea, who at 13 is the youngest participant, is concerned about issues involving global warming. He expressed his enthusiasm for the conference, saying, "Young people have the power to change the world. We would like to move adults by preparing the strongest declaration possible in pursuit of a lush, green future."

The idea of the 2010 APEC Junior Conference in Hiroshima was proposed by the junior writers of "Peace Seeds," a peace newspaper by Hiroshima teens that has appeared regularly as an insert in the Chugoku Shimbun, at the G8 Summit of Lower House Speakers held in Hiroshima in September 2008. The G8 speakers supported the idea and the City of Hiroshima and the Chugoku Shimbun, which took on the task of realizing the proposal, established an executive committee, composed of local entities, and undertook preparations for the gathering.

On February 21, Arthur Binard, a poet, will deliver the keynote speech in the east wing of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum at 1:50 p.m. Citizens are welcome to attend the address.


Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
APEC, a regional forum established in 1989 to promote economic cooperation, has 21 member nations and regions, including Japan, Southeast Asian nations, the United States, China, and Russia. Since 1993, APEC has held the Economic Leaders' Meetings and broadened its themes for discussion into other fields, such as "human security." Japan will chair APEC this year. In the run-up to the Economic Leaders' Meeting, to be held in November in the city of Yokohama, the APEC Japan 2010 Senior Officials' Meeting I will be held in the city of Hiroshima on February 22 and 23.

(Originally published on February 21, 2010)

Hiroshima students lend support to welcome reception with Japanese drums
by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

Local high school students in Hiroshima added excitement to the welcome reception of the APEC Junior Conference, which opened in Hiroshima on February 20. The students warmly greeted the young people of their generation from the Asia-Pacific region and soon expanded the circle of international exchange with the participants by beating Japanese drums together. During the conference, running through February 23, local youth will continue to support the operation of the conference as volunteer staff.

The welcome reception was held at Welcity Hiroshima in the city center. Thirteen students from Hiroshima Bunkyo High School in Asakita Ward and seven students from Hiroshima Sanyo High School in Nishi Ward, played the Japanese drums with vigor and lively shouts, stirring excitement in the audience.

The participants in the junior conference also took up the drumsticks, receiving instruction from the students of the two local high schools. Ellie Sato, 18, from Mexico, tried her hand at a large drum with a diameter of 1.2 meters. "It's so loud it hurts my ears!" she exclaimed. "What a powerful sound!"

Kana Okada, 16, a first-year student at AICJ Senior High School in Asaminami Ward, was serving as a greeter and commented, "I want to help create an environment where everyone can feel comfortable and focus on the discussion." She welcomed the participants with a smile and guided them to the venue.

High school volunteers will continue to offer support to the conference as it proceeds. On February 21, they will give tours of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Miyajima Island, as well as serving as photographers and recording secretaries for the discussions at the junior conference.

(Originally published on February 21, 2010)