January 23(Sunday)

Embarking towards a world without nuclear weapons

 

This afternoon, eight Hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and one second-generation Hibakusha will depart from Yokohama port as "Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons" delegated by the government. They are going to give personal testimonies about the effects of the atomic bombs.

 

It was last summer that I called for this new endeavor to have "Special Communicators."  I spoke of this idea during the addresses I delivered at the Peace Ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

 

Commissioning the Special Communicators began the following month.  Until now, 16 survivors of the atomic bombings have traveled to the UK, Turkey, Kuwait, and Thailand, among other countries, to deliver talks, and they have also provided their own testimonies to foreign dignitaries visiting Japan.

 

This time, nine Communicators will embark at once.  This is, moreover, a major undertaking, in that they are heading off to give their testimonies in a trip around the globe extending from today until mid-April.

 

This happens to coincide with the airing of a TV show in the UK in which a Japanese "double hibakusha"?a survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings?was laughed at.  We lodged a protest through our embassy.  While a letter of apology arrived from the program, with Japan being the only country to have ever suffered the devastation of atomic bombings, this is not something we can overlook, and I found it regrettable.

 

To the Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons who will depart from Yokohama today, your work of speaking about your agonizing experiences, with firm resolve that after you there will never again be victims of atomic bombings as you experienced, is truly significant and noble.  I have great expectations that as you relate unfalteringly your experiences of the bombings to people in countries around the world, through your words, a major groundswell will rise up from the world to abolish nuclear weapons.

 

Do please take care of yourself, as you are advanced in years, and please stay in good health and good spirits throughout your journey.

 



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