New rose named “ICAN” is bred by A-bomb survivor

(by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer)

Kazuzo Tagashira, 89, an A-bomb survivor and rose breeder who lives in Tomota, Hatsukaichi City, has produced a new variety of rose and named it “ICAN.” Mr. Tagashira was inspired by the efforts of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the non-governmental organization (NGO) that received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. He obtained ICAN’s consent to use this name for his new rose.

Mr. Tagashira’s new variety of rose features pale pink petals, a gentle tree-like shape, and flowers that bloom in clusters, one after another, as if supporting each other. Mr. Tagashira said, “I appreciate the fact that young people who have never experienced war, not just in Hiroshima but all over the world, are sharing the feelings of the A-bomb survivors and are trying to do all they can to bring about the abolition of nuclear weapons. And I have expressed my sense of appreciation through this rose.”

On the evening of August 6, 1945, the day of the A-bomb attack, Mr. Tagashira entered Hiroshima, crossed the Aioi Bridge, located just outside the hypocenter, and returned to his home in Kamitenma-cho (now part of Nishi Ward). On his way home, he saw heaps of bodies and people with severe injuries who were pleading for help. His younger brother, who was working as a mobilized student in the Koami-cho area (now part of Naka Ward) was killed by the atomic bomb.

Before the Hiroshima bombing, Mr. Tagashira had been captivated by the beauty of the roses an old man in his neighborhood was growing. After the war, Mr. Tagashira was given some cuttings from an A-bombed rose bush by the old man and planted them in his garden. He sought for ways to cultivate roses himself and began his own rose garden at the age of 25. Through his roses, including new breeds like the “Hiroshima Appeal” variety, Mr. Tagashira lent support to the work of the late Tomin Harada, who devoted his life to treating the A-bomb survivors and pursuing exchange activities to promote peace. Mr. Harada died in 1999.

Hiroshima Baraen, or the Hiroshima Rose Garden, which Mr. Tagashira ran for decades with his wife Suzuko, 83, also an A-bomb survivor, has now been taken over by his first son Megumu. But the original vow made by Mr. Tagashira, “to produce flowers of peace in Hiroshima’s burned-out ground to comfort the souls of the A-bomb victims,” remains the same.

ICAN, with its secretariat in Switzerland, welcomed Mr. Tagashira’s request to call his new variety of rose “ICAN.” On January, the naming of this rose was reported in a telephone conference of ICAN’s international steering group. ICAN said that all of its members were greatly impressed by the A-bomb survivor’s profound thoughts and some suggested creating a picture card of Mr. Tagashira’s rose.

Akira Kawasaki, co-chair of Peace Boat, a Japanese NGO and member of ICAN’s steering group, said, “We have accepted Mr. Tagashira’s proposal with much appreciation. Using the ICAN rose, I’d like to strengthen our appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons.”

(Originally published on January 28, 2019)