Chiho Kozakura to attend international conference on inhumanity of nuclear weapons as high school peace ambassador

by Kohei Okata, Staff Writer

Determined to speak out over threat of nuclear weapons and move hearts of adults

The “High School Peace Ambassador Dispatch Committee,” a citizens’ group in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, will send Chiho Kozakura, 16, to an international conference on the inhumanity of nuclear weapons to be held in Mexico on February 13 and 14. In addition to attending this conference, Ms. Kozakura will give a speech at a satellite event organized by a non-governmental organization.

“Even at this very moment, children around the world are facing the threat of nuclear weapons,” she said. Wondering how she could convey this concern to the international community, she has been diligently sharpening her speech each day as she pores over nuclear-related materials.

Though no one in her family experienced the atomic bombing directly, she began to think seriously about nuclear abolition after listening to the account of an A-bomb survivor in a peace education class in the summer of eighth grade. The survivor lost some of his family members to the bombing in an instant, saying, “I closed my eyes, and when I opened them, I found my mother and younger brother dead. Can you imagine that?” When Ms. Kozakura put herself in the survivor’s shoes, she cringed at the thought.

Ms. Kozakura went on to Hiroshima University Senior High School last spring and applied for the position of high school peace ambassador, in the hope of conveying the thoughts of A-bomb survivors. She began to serve as an ambassador last June with 19 other high school ambassadors from around Japan.

In August, she observed the discussions held at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament in Switzerland. Seeing representatives of various nations vociferously arguing the positions held by their homelands, she “understood why disarmament has made no headway.” She then told herself with determination: “I probably have some power to move the hearts of grown-ups for the very simple reason that I’m a high school student and not tainted by anything. I have to take action.”

Ms. Kozakura belongs to the badminton club at her high school. She said, shyly, that she is “an ordinary high school student” who also likes to watch movies. Her dream for the future is to become a doctor. When she was in the first grade in elementary school, she lost her grandmother to cancer. “I loved my grandmother and I’d like to save as many lives as possible because I couldn’t save my grandmother,” she said. At times she feels encouraged by A-bomb survivors who call for nuclear abolition, linking her grandmother with these survivors.

Ms. Kozakura lives with her parents and younger sister in Asaminami Ward, Hiroshima.

(Originally published on February 5, 2014)