Interaction between visitors and A-bomb survivors promoted at cafe

by Seiji Shitakubo, Staff Writer

In conjunction with the August 6 anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, a group of Hiroshima University students are creating a space for citizens and A-bomb survivors to interact at a cafe not far from Peace Memorial Park. From August 4-6, visitors can hear A-bomb testimonies from survivors and watch animated films on the theme of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Via the internet, they can also make contact with youth overseas.

The five-member “Team Phoenix” has prepared this event. Mariko Komatsu, 31, a graduate student and leader of the group, thought, “Every year on August 6, the day of the atomic bombing, many people visit Hiroshima from other parts of Japan and from abroad, but they have little opportunity to interact with young people here.” To address this situation, since April of this year she has been preparing the event in cooperation with others in and out of the university.

The venue is Cafe PACO in Otemachi, Naka Ward, about 500 meters from Peace Memorial Park. For the duration of the event, visitors have a chance to listen to the personal accounts of four survivors, with English interpretation, and view more than a dozen animated films, including “The Angry Jizo” and “It Rains Softly.”

Visitors also can exchange views over the Internet with people of Bosnia, a region rocked by civil war in the 1990s. In addition, specialists will speak on Hiroshima’s postwar reconstruction and support for A-bomb survivors. To participate, 400 yen for coffee or another beverage is requested.

Several members of the “Team Phoenix” group are from Hiroshima Prefecture. Urara Hatano, 19, a freshman in the Faculty of Letters, looks forward to the interaction with others. And Ai Nawa, 19, a freshman in the Faculty of Education, hopes the three-day event will provide an opportunity for participants to reflect on peace in their own way.

The group’s activity is supported by “The Frontrunner Program” in which Hiroshima University offers financial backing to the volunteer activities of its students. Ms. Komatsu said, “The event focuses on the rebirth of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the devastation and tragedy of the atomic bombings. I hope many young people will turn out for this event.”

(Originally published on July 23, 2008)