ICAN member organizations in Hiroshima express delight at news of Nobel Peace Prize

by Yuji Yamamoto and Miho Kuwajima, Staff Writers

“Congratulations! The Nobel Peace Prize will create more momentum for the abolition of nuclear weapons.” The members of Hiroshima organizations affiliated with ICAN shouted for joy on October 6 when they learned that ICAN had been awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Erika Abiko, 38, the leader of Project Now, a youth organization which actively promotes the abolition of nuclear weapons through art, closely watched a live report streaming online in the Peace Café, which she manages.

“Winning the Nobel Peace Prize is so wonderful, and this will provide a huge boost in our efforts to advance the abolition of nuclear weapons,” Ms. Abiko said. Her group became a member of ICAN four years ago after holding an art exhibition at a citizens’ forum in Norway that was organized by ICAN. Looking to the future, she said, “I would like to start a campaign to exert pressure on the Japanese government to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.”

At the Hiroshima Prefectural Medical Association building in Higashi Ward, Hiroshima, Katsuko Kataoka, 73, the secretary general of the Japanese Affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), couldn’t suppress her excitement. IPPNW, a 1985 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, helped with ICAN’s founding and the Japanese affiliate now works together with ICAN.

Expressing her hopes, Ms. Kataoka said, “IPPNW’s Nobel Peace Prize led to the promotion of nuclear arms reductions in the United States and the former Soviet Union, and from this point forward, ICAN will have the opportunity to exert strong influence on international politics and put pressure on the nuclear weapon states.” She added, however, that ICAN’s activities are founded on the efforts of the A-bomb survivors, who have long spoken out about their experiences of the atomic bombings, and thus she finds it extremely regrettable that the A-bomb survivors’ organizations were not named co-winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mayors for Peace, which was established at the suggestion of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and now has more than 7,400 member cities worldwide, is also an international partner of ICAN. Steven Leeper, 69, a peace activist based in the city of Miyoshi, helped facilitate the Mayors for Peace ties with ICAN when he served as the chairperson of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation.

Mr. Leeper said that the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN can be regarded as the Nobel Committee’s objection to the nuclear weapon states and he urged that all people living in Japan, and particularly the residents of Hiroshima, think seriously about nuclear issues and change their mindset so that they will feel that the Japanese government’s policy of protection under the U.S. nuclear umbrella is unacceptable.

(Originally published on October 7, 2017)