Hiroshima Voices: “No Nukes, No War” Zhygalko Vitalii, 36, interpreter, Ukraine

With peace being truly precious, I hope for an end to the war

by Masakazu Domen, Staff Writer

Zhygalko Vitalii works as a Japanese interpreter and media coordinator in Ukraine. He visited Hiroshima for work on an art exhibit in 2011, and because he was born in the year of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, Mr. Vitalii has an intense interest in nuclear issues. He lives in Makariv, a town in the province of Kyiv Oblast, where the capital city of Kyiv is located. Makariv, along with the neighboring district of Bucha Raion, became a combat zone with the Russian military invasion in February and March of 2022.

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I live with my family in Makariv, and we occasionally visit Kyiv. Childcare and educational facilities in Makariv have been destroyed in the shelling by Russia’s military. In Ukraine, the new school year begins in September, but I am not confident about whether my four-year-old son will be able to go to kindergarten. Another question is in what elementary school we should enroll my seven-year-old daughter. Schools in Makariv are not functioning adequately.

The people of Japan live in a peaceful country. I want everyone to truly cherish the peace they enjoy. I don’t know how long my life in this world will continue (in Ukraine). With that, I cherish the time I can spend together with my family. I cherish every moment. Russia frequently launches missiles and drone attacks. Such attacks can happen at any time.

We have been living in this situation for more than a year. What I hope for most is peace…and victory. Without victory, my son will likely experience another war when he grows up. I want our relationship with Russia to somehow be resolved. I hope that our children will not have to experience war again in the future.

I was born on June 28, 1986. The Chernobyl nuclear accident occurred on April 26, the same year. My mother was apparently told by her physician that it might be better for her to not give birth. I have had many opportunities to coordinate media coverage about Chernobyl and am truly aware of the fear associated with radiation and nuclear weapons.

I have stood in front of the A-bomb Dome in Hiroshima. If nuclear weapons are ever used again, there would be many similar buildings and many people would perish. World leaders must first work together to end the war in Ukraine and make every effort to ensure that nuclear weapons are not used in the future.