Youth Action Forum opens in Hiroshima with young people from 12 nations learning about nuclear weapons

by Miho Kuwajima, Staff Writer

The Youth Action Forum for the abolition of nuclear weapons, organized by the Japanese Red Cross Society, based in Tokyo, opened in the city of Hiroshima on July 1. At the forum, young people from 12 countries in Europe, Africa, and various other parts of the world attended discussions and listened to the testimony of an A-bomb survivor to learn about the devastation caused by the atomic bomb and the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons.

The forum attendees consist of 15 “Red Cross Youth Volunteers” who have been working in various disaster-affected areas and medical sites across the world. They visited the Peace Memorial Museum in Naka Ward, offered a wreath of flowers at the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims, and listened to the account of Keiko Ogura, 81, an A-bomb survivor living in Naka Ward. Ms. Ogura showed the participants photos and drawings created by A-bomb survivors which depict the devastating destruction caused by the atomic bomb and said forcefully that they were now also witnesses of the atomic bomb because of what they learned had happened in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. She added that everyone must take action so that the tragedy that befell Hiroshima will never be repeated.

Jacques Grimont, 27, from France, said that he was very impressed by Ms. Ogura’s words, stressing reconciliation rather than revenge, and that he now understood that the damage done to human health by nuclear arms can last a lifetime. Dilia Mares, 37, is from the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific Ocean, where the United States once carried out a succession of nuclear tests. She emphasized that one of her family members had been affected by the nuclear fallout from the U.S. tests and said that, as someone who has had some experience that is similar to Ms. Ogura, she can empathize with her fully and feels encouraged by her words.

The forum was held to commemorate the second anniversary of the establishment of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the 100th anniversary of the founding of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The forum participants will be in Hiroshima until July 3 and will also visit the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital & Atomic Bomb Survivors Hospital in Naka Ward.

(Originally published on July 2, 2019)