Children’s Summit, proposed by junior writers of the Chugoku Shimbun, receives G8 support

by Keisuke Yoshihara, Staff Writer

The possibility that children from the world will gather in the A-bombed city of Hiroshima to discuss peace has emerged from the G8 Speakers’ Summit. Yohei Kono, Speaker of the House of Representatives, spoke at a press conference after the meeting adjourned and announced, “As one outcome of the G8 Summit of Lower House Speakers, the participants have agreed that we sincerely hope a Children’s Summit will be held in Hiroshima.” This proposal, embraced warmly by Speaker Kono, was originally conceived by the junior writers of Peace Seeds, a children’s newspaper produced by Japanese teens that appears as a regular feature in the Chugoku Shimbun.

At a luncheon hosted by the city of Hiroshima, Speaker Kono raised the idea of the Children’s Summit, saying, “Although the host city of Hiroshima and her citizens will play the leading role, and aspects involving its organization and its financial resources should start being considered, the speakers have all agreed that we will support this event.”

The idea of holding the World Children’s Summit had been suggested to Speaker Kono by the junior writers of Peace Seeds when they interviewed him this past March about the Speakers’ Summit. The junior writers then sent questionnaires, by email, to the G8 speakers, which included reference to the Children’s Summit proposal, and the speakers uniformly expressed their initial support for the idea in their responses.

(Originally published on September 3, 2008)

Speaker Kono hopes Children’s Summit “egg” will hatch in Hiroshima

by Keisuke Yoshihara and Toshiko Bajo, Staff writers

The idea of holding an international gathering of children in Hiroshima to discuss issues of peace--the World Children’s Summit, suggested by the junior writers of Peace Seeds to the speakers of the G8 nations--has taken a promising leap forward to fulfillment.

According to several participants at the luncheon for the G8 speakers hosted by the city of Hiroshima, toward the end of the meal, Speaker Yohei Kono made a proposal to the other speakers, saying, “The junior writers at the Chugoku Shimbun have suggested holding a children’s summit in Hiroshima. Why don’t we consider the Children’s Summit an egg yielded by the G8 Summit of Lower House Speakers? When this egg hatches and the chick emerges, I would like Mayor Akiba to think about what to feed our little chick.”

In response, U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “That’s a wonderful idea. I hope disarmament will be the theme of the meeting.” The other G8 speakers voiced their support of the idea as well.

At a press conference after the luncheon, Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba acknowledged the backing of the G8 speakers for the Children’s Summit, commenting, “The leaders of the legislatures, one of the pillars of a government composed of three branches, have expressed their support for this suggestion. The idea is also a message to us of the importance of taking children into consideration when we practice politics. The city of Hiroshima is eager to pursue this proposal constructively.”

Concrete matters, such as the timing of the Children’s Summit, the organizing body, and the participating nations, will begin to be explored. Most likely, children from countries besides the G8 nations will also be asked to take part.

Risa Kushioka, 17, one of the junior writers who interviewed Speaker Kono at his official residence this March, attended the press conference after the summit meeting. Speaker Kono, recognizing her on his way out of the conference room, stopped to ask, “How are you doing?”

Ms. Kushioka commented happily, “I was moved that Speaker Kono remembered me. I believe our suggestion has now come much closer to being realized. I hope the Children’s Summit will be held with the participation of children from many different countries at the earliest possible time.”

(Originally published on September 3, 2008)