Junior high school students send letters to world leaders, appeal for nuclear abolition

by Keiichi Nagayama, Staff Writer

As part of their peace studies, second-year students at Kurashiki Minami Junior High School in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, will send letters to the leaders of nuclear weapon states, appealing for them to give up their nuclear arsenals and pay visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On January 31, members of the organizing committee for this project made preparations for sending the letters, along with origami paper cranes and signatures collected from all second-year students at the school.

After school, Sadahito Naka, 13, leader of the committee, and eight other members gathered in a classroom to check the materials and put the paper cranes and signatures collected from 300 second-year students into cardboard boxes for mailing.

Written in English, the letter includes the following lines: “Please, we request you to give up nuclear weapons as soon as possible” and “There are still some people suffering from the effects of the atomic bombs in those areas. I hope you would come over to the area even just once.” The letter will be sent to the presidents of the United States, France, China, and Russia, and the prime ministers of the United Kingdom and India. A letter, also including the students’ appeal for the readers to visit Hiroshima, will be sent to the U.N. secretary general and the Pope.

Each year, second- and third-year students at this school in Kurashiki learn about the damage caused by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the current state of nuclear weapons in the world. After their classes in peace studies started last December, the students began to consider ways they themselves could take action to help eliminate nuclear arms. The organizing committee for this effort was then formed by volunteers.

Members of the committee began drafting the letter during their winter vacation. The letter was then translated into English with the help of English teachers at the school. The committee also asked all second-year students to fold paper cranes and provide their signatures. On February 5, the second-year students will visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in downtown Hiroshima and listen to the testimony of an A-bomb survivor.

Marina Shimoji, 14, one of the members of the committee, commented, “Through our peace studies, I now have the hope that nuclear weapons will be abolished as soon as possible.” Sadahito, the leader of the effort, expressed his determination, and said, “I simply want to convey our wish for the elimination of nuclear weapons.”

(Originally published on February 1, 2013)