My Life—Interview with Keiko Ogura (1937–), interpreter and A-bomb survivor, Part 9: Activities for peace

Founded civic group and company

Inspired by the anti-nuclear activities carried out by people in Europe, the first thing I did was organize the Peace Picnic. At that event, participants gathered in front of the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims at Peace Memorial Park, located in Hiroshima’s Naka Ward, walked along Peace Boulevard, and ascended Hijiyama, a large hill in the city’s Minami Ward. At Hijiyama, we talked about various topics while eating our box lunches. Anyone interested in pursuing a peaceful world was able to participate in the picnic event, regardless of nationality or organization. Participation without reservations was also welcomed.

I invited my non-Japanese friends to join in, and we made everything we hand-made everything we needed for the picnic. We created a banner out of white cloth so passers-by could understand at a glance what was going on. We brought a clothesline from home to hold up the banner. Through that event, at which we shared plans for future activities, I was able to expand a circle of like-minded people.

The popular PEACE-LOVE international exchange event held over the years in Hiroshima was born from such gatherings. The event’s name, in Japanese hiragana, was formed by the combination of the words “peace” and “love.” We planned the event based on the desire to share peace and love among people from all nations, managing to first hold it in 1984 based on cooperation from the Hiroshima International Cultural Foundation.

I enjoyed such activities, but I was so busy I didn’t have enough time to sleep at night. As I pondered the idea of having others help with the work of guiding overseas tourists visiting Hiroshima, I happened upon an article explaining how a course was to be held for the training of Hiroshima guides. I immediately picked up the telephone and asked the organizer to let me speak at the course. At the class venue, I called for support from the course participants.

The following month, Ms. Ogura formed the volunteer group Hiroshima Interpreters for Peace (HIP) with about 20 members. The group now has about 200 members and engages in the work of guiding visitors in English around Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park.

While working on those initiatives, I began to realize that peace needs to be created from within our daily lives. As internationalization accelerated, I thought I could make a contribution to society also from a business perspective, so I established a publicly held company that provided consultation on issues concerning international relations. With cooperation from non-Japanese advisors, my company has provided services in multiple languages, including support for resolution of issues concerning international childbirth, marriage, and property inheritance, in addition to translation of documents relevant to companies hoping to enter overseas markets and procedures for studying abroad, as well as interpretation services.

Over the course of one year, we managed to publish a guidebook titled Hiroshima Attention Please! which included information about Hiroshima’s lifestyle, tourism, and peace-related information in both Japanese and English. Many people utilized the book as the city was about to host the Asian Games in 1994.

(Originally published on May 10, 2023)