Peace-Smile Festa in Hiroshima unites junior high and high school students in pursuit of peace

by Rie Nii, Staff Writer

The “Peace-Smile Festa,” an event for junior high and high school students, was held at the Chugoku Shimbun Building in downtown Hiroshima on March 30. It was sponsored by the Chugoku Shimbun and supported by the Hiroshima Peace Creation Fund. The participating youth compiled a declaration, called “Our Peace-Smile,” after pondering issues of peace and reconstruction through sessions of music and dialogue.

About 400 people took part in the event. Among the groups performing music and singing songs were the Brass Band Club from Suzugamine Girls’ Junior High School and Senior High School, located in Nishi Ward, Hiroshima; the Chorus Club from Yasuda Girls’ Junior High School and the Music Club from Yasuda Girls’ Senior High School, located in Naka Ward, Hiroshima; and the Chorus Club from Aoi High School, located in Aizu Wakamatsu, Fukushima, where the accident at the nuclear power plant occurred in March 2011. After these performances, the students and people in attendance sang the song “Sekai ni Hitotsu dake no Hana.” (“The Only Flower in the World,” originally sung by the Japanese music group “SMAP.”)

At workshops organized for the occasion, about 150 people joined such activities as listening to A-bomb accounts and creating picture books on peace-related themes. At the session titled “Fukushima Today,” students from Aoi High School described current conditions in Fukushima Prefecture, where efforts to rehabilitate the area are slow-going because the decontamination work involving radioactive materials has not progressed. At the session “What is Bullying?” the participants exchanged ideas with a college student in Germany through video conferencing via the Internet. Fourteen booths were also set up to share the peace activities and other efforts being made by groups of junior high and high school students.

For the “Finale,” the junior writers for the Chugoku Shimbun, who planned and organized the event, issued their declaration. The statement contained seven aims, including “Be tolerant,” “Be trusting,” and “Let down our guard once in a while.” The declaration was endorsed by the participants through their applause.

The students from Aoi High School were invited to Hiroshima through a program called “Convey Hope and High Spirit Campaign,” organized by the Chugoku Shimbun and other entities to lend support to the affected areas of eastern Japan.

(Originally published on March 31, 2013)