Hiroshima Prefecture and ICAN launch nuclear abolition program for youth from around the world

by Koji Higuchi, Staff Writer

On July 31, the “Hiroshima-ICAN Academy on Nuclear Weapons and Global Security,” a program jointly developed by Hiroshima Prefecture and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning non-governmental organization (NGO), opened in Naka Ward, Hiroshima. Through this program, scheduled to run until August 8, youth from around the world will learn about the reality of the atomic bombing and considers ways that can advance the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Fifteen students and young professionals from 11 countries, who are in their teens and twenties, will attend lectures over the course of nine days. The participants were selected from a total of 85 applicants. Given the fact that the world is currently divided over the issue of nuclear arms, eight participants were chosen from nuclear weapon states, including the United States and France, and the rest come from non-nuclear weapon states, such as Japan, Korea, and Germany.

On the first day, the opening event was held at the Hiroshima Prefectural Citizen’s Culture Center. Akira Kawasaki, a member of ICAN’s international steering committee, explained the main themes of the lectures, which include the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons. He asked the young people to “learn about the various points of view from experts and discuss ideas for abolishing nuclear weapons with the other participants.”

The group also visited the Atomic Bomb Dome and toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. They looked closely at the museum exhibits, such as photos of the city center reduced to burnt ruins after the bombing, and panels that explain the effects of radiation on the human body.

Jannis Kappelmann, 23, a college student from Germany, said that the photo of so many skeletons made him fearful of nuclear weapons, and that he wanted to think together with the other participants about how they could realize a world without nuclear arms.

The program participants will be in Hiroshima until August 8. In addition to attending the Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6, they will listen to lectures by ambassadors from eight nations and security experts, as well as testimonies from A-bomb survivors. On the last day of the program, they will give a presentation on what they have learned.

(Originally published on August 1, 2019)