Setsuko Thurlow speaks at anti-nuclear symposium, encourages participants to send out strong message from Hiroshima

(by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer)

Setsuko Thurlow, 86, who experienced the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and now lives in Canada, spoke at an anti-nuclear symposium held in the east building of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on November 28. She said to some 330 participants that each of them should take action for the cause of nuclear abolition. Last year Ms. Thurlow delivered a speech on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) when the non-governmental organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The symposium was sponsored by the Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (HANWA), a citizens’ group. Speaking about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted by the United Nations in July of last year, Ms. Thurlow said that the treaty was the reward for the efforts made over many decades by survivors to advance the abolition of nuclear arms. For the treaty to come into effect, it needs to be ratified by 50 nations. Though the Japanese government has refused to sign the treaty, Ms. Thurlow encouraged the participants to press the government to be one of those 50 nations.

She also said that it is the moral responsibility of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to lead the movement to have the treaty take effect. She called on the Hiroshima city government to make further appeals to the Japanese government. “Hiroshima must send out a stronger message,” she said, asking the participants to urge the mayor of Hiroshima and the city assembly to be more proactive.

During the panel discussion that followed, the panelists discussed the international conditions involving nuclear weapons and ways to appeal for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The panelists were Ms. Thurlow; Haruko Moritaki, 79, the co-chair of HANWA; Yumi Kanazaki, 48, a reporter for the Chugoku Shimbun; and Riko Shitakubo, 16, a second-year student at Notre Dame Seishin Junior and Senior High School and a High School Student Peace Ambassador.

Ms. Shitakubo asked, “What message can my generation, which has no experience of the atomic bombing, convey for nuclear abolition?” Ms. Thurlow responded, “Over many years, the survivors have come to the conviction that no one else should ever have to experience what we experienced. I hope you will continue to share this for a long time to come, with as many people as you can.”

This is Ms. Thurlow’s first visit to Hiroshima since she spoke at the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony. She will meet students of Miyoshi High School, which is located in the northern part of the prefecture, on November 30.

(Originally published on November 29, 2018)