Junior writers convey Setsuko Thurlow’s thoughts to junior high school students visiting Hiroshima

by Yuji Yamamoto, Staff Writer

On February 21, 15 junior writers for the Chugoku Shimbun met with some 140 students from Minami Junior High School, located in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture, at a hotel in Minami Ward, Hiroshima. The students are in their second year and came to Hiroshima on a school trip. The junior writers shared with them a newspaper article that features an interview with Setsuko Thurlow, 87, a resident of Canada who made a return visit to her hometown of Hiroshima last November, and called on her listeners to work together to realize the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Looking back at their interview with Ms. Thurlow regarding “a peaceful world,” “Hiroshima’s role,” and “what actions young people should take,” the junior writers proposed to the students from Minami Junior High School that they tell their families about what they learned in Hiroshima and post their opinions on social networking service (SNS) websites.

The visiting students explained to the junior writers about the mock atomic bomb dropped on Nagaoka in 1945 and air raids that were carried out on the city. At the end, they discussed the differences in perceptions of the atomic bombings held by Japan and other countries, and agreed that the divide can be bridged if both sides are willing to learn about their own history and each other’s history.

This kind of student exchange activity has been pursued since 2011 when the junior writers visited Nagaoka. Daiki Murayama, 14, a student from Minami Junior High School, made a commitment to convey what he learned in Hiroshima to the people of Nagaoka. Ayu Hayashida, 14, a second-year junior high school student, said that she was inspired by the opinions she heard from young people of her own generation.

(Originally published on February 25, 2019)