New rose variety named “ICAN” encourages ICAN group members

(by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer)

ICAN member pays visit to A-bomb survivor who produced new rose

Akira Kawasaki, 50, a member of the international steering committee of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a nongovernmental organization (NGO), paid a visit to Kazuzo Tagashira, 90, a rose breeder and A-bomb survivor living in Hatsukaichi who named his new variety of rose “ICAN.” Mr. Tagashira named his new rose after the group to show his appreciation for ICAN’s efforts to help realize the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Mr. Kawasaki had a chance to see “ICAN” rose pots and seedlings in person.

Mr. Kawasaki visited Hiroshima Baraen, or the Hiroshima Rose Garden, together with Peace Boat staff. Peace Boat is an NGO based in Tokyo for which Mr. Kawasaki serves as co-chair. He looked at pots growing rose bushes that will bloom in May and went into the greenhouse that holds small seedlings, which were recently grafted by Mr. Tagashira in February.

Mr. Kawasaki also listened closely to Mr. Tagashira as he related his A-bomb experience. Seventy-four years ago, on the evening of August 6, Mr. Tagashira walked from Hiroshima station to his home in Kamitenma-cho (now part of Nishi Ward), crossing Aioi Bridge which was located near the bomb’s hypocenter. Mr. Tagashira said that he was unable to do anything to help someone who was injured and was pleading for help. The person said in a bitter voice, “Help me, or I’ll grab your leg.” He also talked about his younger brother who went missing and was found to have been cremated, turned to ashes in a paper bag. He said, “I wasn’t able to share my story to anyone until very recently because it was such a painful experience.” He revealed that his longtime wish for a peaceful world was reflected in the name he chose for his new type of rose.

Mr. Kawasaki expressed his appreciation for Mr. Tagashira’s efforts, saying, “We will take his profound wish to heart.” He added, “I learned that breeding roses involves growing the flowers with sophisticated skill and persistent effort, despite sometimes experiencing failure, and then sharing them with others. This sort of action is akin to our work at ICAN and gives us great encouragement.” ICAN is thinking of using the “ICAN” rose to promote the ratification of the nuclear weapons ban treaty by, as a first step, producing a picture postcard with an image of the rose.

(Originally published on April 16, 2019)