Students from Kyoto hold peace gathering in Hiroshima for foreign student killed in atomic bombing

by Minako Okuda, Staff Writer

A group of 94 sixth graders from Shugakuin Elementary School in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto visited Hiroshima on a school trip on October 30 and held a peace gathering in the city. They are linked to Hiroshima by the grave of Syed Omar, a student from Malaysia who perished in the atomic bombing. His grave is located in their school district.

During World War II, some from Southeast Asia came to Japan as “Southeast Asian Special Students.” Mr. Omar, who studied at Hiroshima University of Literature and Science (today’s Hiroshima University), was one of them. He passed away in Kyoto on his way back to his homeland.

After offering a silent prayer before a memorial located at a former dormitory for foreign students, known as “Konan-ryo” and located in Otemachi, Naka Ward, the elementary school students sang a song created in memory of Mr. Omar, who took part in relief efforts in the aftermath of the bombing, despite sustaining injuries himself. The students then listened to the A-bomb account of Hiroso Niimi, 75, a former employee of Hiroshima University and a resident of Naka Ward.

In their peace education studies since April, the students from Kyoto have sought to trace the footsteps of Mr. Omar. Yasuto Akitomi, 12, said, “I feel sorry for him, because he wasn’t able to return to his country. When I saw the memorial in Hiroshima, it deepened my desire for peace.”

(Originally published on October 31, 2014)