Hiroshima students speak on world stage at Youth Forum in New York

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

NEW YORK--On April 30, the fourth day of the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, about 100 people packed a meeting room at U.N. headquarters in New York. Officials responsible for nuclear disarmament from various national governments and members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) gathered to listen to high school students from Hiroshima. “The survivors are telling us their experiences solely because they don’t want us to experience the same tragedy,” they said. “We don’t need nuclear weapons in our world.” Thanks to the special training the students had received in delivering their messages in English, their strong speeches were greeted with generous applause.

The Youth Forum was organized by Mayors for Peace, for which Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui serves as president, on the sidelines of the Review Conference. Eight students were dispatched by the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation to this event. The students are from Hiroshima Jogakuin Senior High School and Shudo High School, both located in the city of Hiroshima, and Eishin Gakuen, located in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture. They were joined by two students from Okinawa Shogaku Senior High School in Naha, Okinawa.

The students made presentations to share their activities, which include a signature drive for the abolition of nuclear weapons and guiding people on tours of A-bomb-related monuments. “The audience listened to us attentively, and I think our messages were received,” said Kyoya Ishii, 17, a third-year student at Shudo High School.

The students hope to make use of their language skills and impact diplomatic efforts to realize a future world without nuclear arms. While they have a bright future ahead of them, in order for these young people to communicate their messages more widely, based on the wishes of the A-bomb survivors, the groundwork must be solidly laid through peace education.

(Originally published on May 23, 2015)