High School Peace Ambassadors report on their activities in Switzerland, express determination to continue calling for nuclear abolition

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

Three high school students from Hiroshima Prefecture reported on their activities as High School Peace Ambassadors during a press conference held at Hiroshima City Hall on August 27. Along with other members of the 22nd annual High School Peace Ambassador program, they visited United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Speaking about their experiences appealing for the abolition of nuclear weapons at the international organization and other places, they expressed their determination to continue their activities as youths of Hiroshima.

The 23 peace ambassadors from 16 prefectures visited Switzerland between August 19 and 22. They submitted a list of 210,000 signatures from people calling for nuclear abolition to the United Nations Office at Geneva for Disarmament Affairs. They also met with the ambassadors of some 30 countries, some of which are nuclear weapon states, and local high school students. They shared their family members’ experiences of the atomic bombing and exchanged ideas on nuclear weapons.

Yuichiro Muta, 16, a resident of Higashi Ward, Hiroshima, talked about his grandfather’s experience. The second-year student at Motomachi High School said, “An ambassador of a nuclear weapon state told me that my grandfather’s story was very moving.” Koharu Matsuda, 16, who lives in Minami Ward, Hiroshima, is a second-year student at the high school attached to Hiroshima University. She said, “I realized that when people hear experiences of the atomic bombing, no matter where they live, they come to have the same belief that this tragedy must not be repeated.”

Nozomi Kitahata, 17, who lives in Onomichi in eastern Hiroshima Prefecture, is a second-year student at Prefectural Hiroshima Senior High School. Expressing her determination to continue her activities, she said, “I recognized that we need to know about global conditions if we want to realize the abolition of nuclear weapons, so I will continue learning.”

The High School Student Peace Ambassador program was launched in 1998 in response to nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan. To date, peace ambassadors have submitted a total of more than 2 million signatures to the United Nations.

(Originally published on August 28, 2019)