Hiroshima Speaks Out, Part 4: Shizuka Kuramitsu, graduate of Hiroshima Jogakuin High School who commented at CTBT symposium

by Kyosuke Mizukawa, Staff Writer

Shizuka Kuramitsu: Abolishing nuclear weapons must be seen as essential

In my opinion, things that should naturally be done have not been carried out. A good example is the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which was adopted in 1996 at the U.N. General Assembly to ban all types of nuclear tests that involve a nuclear explosion. This treaty hasn’t entered into force yet because eight nations, including the United States, have failed to ratify it. And it isn’t likely that any further progress can be made on the treaty. I’d like the foreign ministers to better understand the horror of the Hiroshima bombing and recognize that the current slow pace of progress isn’t adequate for realizing nuclear disarmament.

Hoping to hear their impressions as human beings

In her senior year at Hiroshima Jogakuin High School, she was invited to the symposium “Science and Diplomacy for Peace and Security: the CTBT@20” to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the CTBT. This took place in Vienna, Austria in January and February. It all started with the meeting of the “Group of Eminent Persons,” which was held in Hiroshima last summer to advance efforts toward the treaty’s entry into force. Lassina Zerbo, the executive secretary of the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, approached her after the presentation given by William Perry, the former U.S. secretary of defense.

I summoned my courage after Mr. Perry spoke and asked him a question. I asked why the United States wasn’t showing leadership by proceeding with multilateral negotiations for nuclear disarmament in connection with the obligation stipulated in Article 6 of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT.) He responded that although U.S. President Barack Obama was willing to act, it was difficult now, given the current political conditions. I was shocked by the fact that his comment wasn’t very positive, because Mr. Perry is one of the high-profile advocates for a world without nuclear weapons.

When Mr. Zerbo spoke to me afterward, he said he wanted me to value my voice as a person from Hiroshima. That encounter led to my participation at the symposium where I appealed for the abolition of nuclear weapons as quickly as possible by sharing this wish of the A-bomb survivors. I felt that the experts in nuclear disarmament, including Mr. Zerbo, were looking for ways to jolt the status quo, and that included leveraging voices from Hiroshima.

On April 10 and 11, the foreign ministers from seven nations, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, will gather in Hiroshima. I hope they will visit the Peace Memorial Park and comment honestly about their impressions as human beings, rather than just offering political rhetoric like “It’s tough to abolish nuclear arms anytime soon.” They surely will feel something in their hearts that touches the sorrow and the fear that the people of Hiroshima have experienced. I think their honest comments could play an important role in advancing the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Communication by young people is important

Graduates from Hiroshima Jogakuin High School have been actively involved in peace activities such as visiting the monuments in the Peace Memorial Park and collecting signatures in support of nuclear abolition. This fall Ms. Kuramitsu will enter a university in the United States and continue to convey information and engage in interactions with others about Hiroshima.

It’s important that Japanese youth learn about the true consequences of the atomic bombings and communicate that information to others. If we take an interest in the “other nuclear victims” as well, like those who have suffered as a result of nuclear testing by the United States and Russia, our voice seeking “a world without nuclear weapons” can spread to the rest of the world. I’m now thinking about creating a framework of some kind, via the Internet, that could help raise awareness of nuclear issues internationally.


Shizuka Kuramitsu
Born in 1996. Ms. Kuramitsu graduated from Hiroshima Jogakuin High School this past March. Last April she discussed issues involving nuclear disarmament with students from the United States and Russia at an international conference called the “Critical Issues Forum,” held in Hiroshima. She made a presentation on the theme of the inhumanity of nuclear weapons.

(Originally published on April 5, 2016)