Nationwide gathering of high school students for peace and human rights held in Hiroshima

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

The 45th National Meeting of High School Students for Peace, Human Rights and Democracy, a forum where high school students can exchange views on peace and social issues, opened at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on November 21. About 200 students from various prefectures, including Hiroshima, Okayama and Kyoto Prefectures, have gathered for the meeting, which will continue until November 23rd.

During the opening session, members of the "No Nuke Network: Students of Hiroshima Against Nuclear Weapons," a student group calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, spoke about their campaign seeking to encourage U.S. President Barack Obama to visit Hiroshima by delivering paper cranes folded by citizens. Takuya Bajo, 16, a freshman at Hiroshima Gakuin High School, and Yusuke Niitani, 16, a freshman at Hiroshima Shudo High School, expressed their enthusiasm for the campaign, saying, "We would like to deliver the sentiments of those who empathized with our desire to eliminate nuclear weapons directly to the President."

Following their presentation, Steven Leeper, chairperson of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, gave a speech. He referred to the disparity between the rich and the poor spreading both in Japan and abroad and international conditions concerning nuclear weapons, stating, "I would like each of you to raise your voice to deny a culture of war which is built on competition and violence."

The meeting is organized by the executive committee consisting of student representatives and others from various prefectures. On November 22 and 23, there will be workshops and social events at Hiroshima Kokusai Gakuin University. The participants will share the results of their learning on such issues as foreign laborers, the citizen judge system, and the history between Japan and South Korea, while exchanging views from the perspective of high school students.

(Originally published on November 22, 2009)

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