Picture book commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Children’s Peace Monument

by Hiromi Morita, Staff Writer

ANT-Hiroshima, a Hiroshima-based non-profit organization, has published the Japanese version of a picture book entitled “Sadako’s Prayer.” The book takes up the story of Sadako Sasaki, the young Japanese girl who served as the inspiration for the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. “Sadako’s Prayer” was created in collaboration with an artist in the nuclear weapons state of Pakistan and the original version had been published in several local Pakistani languages. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the monument, ANT-Hiroshima is giving away free copies of the book to schools and other organizations to be used as peace education materials.

In the book, a magical bird symbolizing love and tolerance carries two children on its back and flies them to a world of nuclear proliferation and to Hiroshima at the time of the bombing. It depicts Sadako’s struggle against leukemia, a result of the bomb’s radiation, and the campaign initiated by children to raise a monument to honor Sadako and all the children who died as a consequence of the bomb. The book concludes with a call for a commitment to peace.

The original version of the picture book was published in 2006 by ANT-Hiroshima. As the organization has been engaged in providing support to sufferers of conflict in the region and the Pakistan Earthquake of October 2005, it published the book in collaboration with Fauzia Minallah, 45, a Pakistani artist. By reading this book to children, its message aims to promote “the strength and hope which can overcome tragedy.”

It has been 50 years since the Children’s Peace Monument was unveiled in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Tomoko Watanabe, 54, the Executive Director of ANT-Hiroshima, commented, “I want children living today to cherish the desire for peace.” The Japanese version is a 30-page picture book in an A4 size. The NPO is committed to distributing the book for free, using contributions to the organization to defray publishing costs.

Ms. Minallah communicates her feelings through the book’s text and artwork and says, “I would like people to know that many people in Pakistan are praying for peace. ‘Sadako’s Prayer’ is intended to move our hearts in regard to the presence of violence and nuclear weapons.”

In distributing the book, ANT-Hiroshima has paired it with a second newly-published book called “Stories Connecting Hiroshima and Hawaii.” This bilingual picture book, written in English and Japanese, was created by Masako Unezaki, a member of ANT-Hiroshima and an interpreter living in Hiroshima. In her book, she depicts the war experiences of Japanese-Americans living in Hawaii who were originally from Hiroshima.

Copies of both books will be given away to schools and community centers in Hiroshima Prefecture, as well as to individuals and organizations that can utilize the books for peace education.

(Originally published on July 22, 2008)

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Sadako’s brother shares her wish for peace with school teachers from the U.S. (July 25, 2008)
Flyer from children that appealed for support to build the Children’s Peace Monument(June 25, 2008)
50 years of prayers: The Children's Peace Monument (May 2, 2008)