Students welcome G8 Speakers with messages of peace

by Kyosuke Mizukawa and Shunsaku Iwanari, Staff Writers

Participants of the G8 Summit of Lower House Speakers were welcomed by elementary and junior high school students on September 2 at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, site of the meeting venue. The students hope that their wish for eliminating nuclear weapons will be embraced by the leaders of the legislatures of these eight major nations, including four nuclear powers.

On both sides of the walkway leading to the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims, 550 students from seven local elementary schools stood to greet the participants. As the speakers walked to the cenotaph, the students cheered and waved handmade flags of the participating nations and the European Union.

“I waved my flag with the wish that there will be no more war,” said Raiki Nishida, 11, a sixth-grader at Motomachi Elementary School. Referring to the moment the speakers joined hands in front of the monument, he added, “I felt that peace in the world is a possibility.”

Before the speakers entered Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, 18 elementary and junior high school students greeted them. The students, in pairs, smiled and presented each of the speakers with messages of peace and leis of 1000 paper cranes.

Given a pin in return by Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the United States, Aoi Kato, 15, a third-year student at Senogawa Higashi Junior High School, said, “I will treasure this gift as a token of her promise to work for peace.” With the conflict in Georgia in mind, Kaoru Kono, 14, a third-year student at Gion Higashi Junior High School, presented Boris Gryzlov, chairman of the Russian State Duma, with his own peace message. “I hope Mr. Gryzlov will feel here in Hiroshima that the joy of living in peace is always the most important thing.”

(Originally published on September 3, 2008)