Setsuko Thurlow hopes Pope’s message from Hiroshima will help boost ratification of Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

by Miho Kuwajima, Staff Writer

Setsuko Thurlow, 87, an A-bomb survivor living in Toronto, Canada, who is originally from Hiroshima, took part in the “Meeting for Peace” and listened to the address given by Pope Francis who denounced the use of atomic energy for purposes of war as “more than ever, a crime.” Ms. Thurlow expressed her hope that his appeal will help boost ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

Ms. Thurlow attended the meeting as one of the members of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a non-governmental organization which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. Following an audience with the Pope at the Vatican this past March, it was the second time she has seen Pope Francis in person. Reflecting on the event, she said, “I believe that, by offering his prayers in the A-bombed city, he must have keenly realized the fact that so many people were indiscriminately massacred by the atomic bomb.”

In July 2017, when the TPNW was established, the Vatican promptly signed and ratified the treaty. Ms. Thurlow, who has shared her account of the atomic bombing overseas for around 60 years, said with pleasure, “I have sometimes felt lonely and I lost my confidence, but his message overlapped with my wish, and has greatly encouraged me.”

With regard to the Pope rejecting the idea of nuclear deterrence and stating that “a true peace can only be an unarmed peace,” she said, “He was very brave. I’m sure his message will be conveyed not only to Catholics, but to many other people in the world.” She then added firmly, “Rather than just depending on his influence, the Japanese government, as well as every citizen in Japan, must take his message as a starting point and take action toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.”

(Originally published on November 25, 2019)