"Never Again Campaign" recruits "peace ambassadors" to mark 25th anniversary

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

Marking the 25th anniversary of the start of its activities this year, the "Never Again Campaign" (NAC) is recruiting volunteer "peace ambassadors" charged with appealing for the realization of a world free from nuclear weapons while staying at citizens' homes in the United States, the only nation to have used atomic bombs during war.

The new missionaries will receive training in Japan, and head to the United States in January or September 2011. During their three-month stay abroad, they will visit local schools and churches to teach Japanese culture, screen films on the atomic bombings, and share stories of A-bomb experiences on behalf of the survivors in order to convey the damage caused by the bombings.

NAC was launched in 1985 by Yoko Kitaura, 52, a former junior high school teacher and a resident of Sanda City, Hyogo Prefecture, and Mr. and Mrs. Donald Lathrop, American professors of peace studies. So far, a total of 51 ambassadors in nine rounds have been dispatched to the United States. They have given more than 10,000 presentations.

Yuki Otsuji, 27, an ambassador from the 9th round and a postgraduate student, stayed in the United States and Canada for about nine months, and related A-bomb experiences she learned from the survivors to 5,000 people on 200 occasions.

In many cases, though, her offers to visit and share the A-bomb stories were declined. In retrospect, she believes it vital to carefully prepare the presentations, such as by including Japan's wartime aggression. "Whatever motivations you may have for applying, I strongly urge you to take part and pass on the survivors' experiences and spread support for nuclear abolition in the United States," she said.

Applications will be accepted until March 5. Applicants are requested to e-mail a motivation statement and CV, in both Japanese and English, to the campaign's head office. Interviews will begin toward the end of March in Hiroshima and five other Japanese cities in order to select about five ambassadors.

(Originally published on February 22, 2010)