Citizens’ group in Hiroshima sends A-bomb picture book to Pope Francis prior to his visit

by Miho Kuwajima, Staff Writer

Prior to the visit by Pope Francis to Hiroshima on November 24, a citizens’ group called “Children’s Library Linking Hiroshima and The World” mailed a picture book that depicts the horror of the atomic bombing to the Vatican Embassy in Tokyo. A letter written in Italian accompanied the book and was addressed to the Pope. It said: “We present this book to you with the heart of Hiroshima citizens who wish for peace.”

The book is a copy of the English translation of E de yomu Hiroshima no Genbaku, or Hiroshima, A Tragedy Never to Be Repeated. Written by Masamoto Nasu and illustrated by Shigeo Nishimura, it was published by Fukuinkan Shoten on the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing. It delicately depicts the evolution of Hiroshima, from its prewar state to the present, with historical and scientific explanations.

The book was sent on October 31. A letter written in Italian by Chie Iio, 58, a member of the group who lives in Saeki Ward, and two paper cranes folded by Masako Miyazato, 78, another member who lives in Naka Ward, were also enclosed. Yukiko Shibata, 87, the leader of the group who lives in Asaminami Ward, said firmly, “Those of us who experienced the war have a responsibility to bequeath a world full of happiness to the generations that follow. Through the book, we would like the Pope, who holds an international perspective, to know about the tremendous damage that Hiroshima suffered as a result of the atomic bomb.”

The group began sending picture books to children overseas in 1996. To date, they have sent 3005 books to 168 countries, including the nuclear weapon states. After the G8 Speakers’ Meeting was held in the city of Hiroshima in 2008, they began to mail copies of the book to foreign embassies in Japan when their leaders visit this nation. In May and June of this year, a copy of the same book was sent to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo on the sidelines of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Japan, but the delivery was refused and the book was returned.

(Originally published on November 6, 2019)