City of Hiroshima to launch program to foster speakers of A-bomb experiences

by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer

The City of Hiroshima will establish a training program designed to foster a group of people able to convey the A-bomb experiences suffered by A-bomb survivors. The program is set to begin this April, the start of the 2012 fiscal year. A mentor relationship will be formed between A-bomb survivors and trainees, then each trainee will share the A-bomb experience of the mentor. The period of training will last approximately three years and result in the trainees becoming full-fledged speakers of the A-bomb experiences they have studied. Then, on behalf of their mentors, they will carry on the mission of conveying the experiences of A-bomb survivors for students on school trips and for others.

With A-bomb survivors growing older, the aim of the program is to cultivate speakers who can continue to hand down the A-bomb experiences on their behalf. The city has allocated 1.77 million yen in the 2012 fiscal budget to cover the costs of the program, including fees for the A-bomb survivors who will serve as lecturers.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, who is focused on efforts to hand down the A-bomb experiences to the future, spoke about the program at a news conference held on February 7. “It is vital to continue conveying the thoughts of the A-bomb survivors as we appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons,” the mayor said. “I would like the program to foster speakers who can relate the A-bomb accounts as if these were their own experiences.”

In the first year of the training program, the participants will learn about the reality of the atomic bombing and the state of nuclear weapons in the world, as well as presentation techniques for effective communication. In the second and third years, they will closely follow the presentations of their mentoring A-bomb survivors to come to a deeper understanding of their thoughts. Mentors for the program will be sought from among the 35 A-bomb survivors who have registered at the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation as speakers of A-bomb accounts. The trainees will debut in the spring of 2015 as speakers themselves.

A call for participants in the program will be launched in April. No special criteria will be expected of applicants, and selections will be made regardless of age, gender, nationality, and whether or not the applicant has relatives who are A-bomb survivors. Takuo Takigawa, the head of the Peace Policies Comprehensive Promotion Division for the City of Hiroshima, said, “Conveying the A-bomb experiences is not an easy task. But I hope people who feel an interest in this will take up the challenge.”

(Originally published on February 8, 2012)