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Hiroshima-Nagasaki

Interview with Anti-Nuclear Activist Mitsuhiro Hayashida

Back in February, members of ANT-Hiroshima participated in a workshop about the current global anti-nuclear movement and Japan’s role therein. The workshop was led by Mitsuhiro Hayashida, activist and campaign leader of the Hibakusha Appeal. I later had the chance to interview Hayashida-san about his activities and some of his thoughts on the anti-nuclear movement. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Hayashida-san!

Hayashida-san speaks at an event for Hibakusha Appeal.

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Please introduce yourself.

In Nagasaki, I served on the 10,000 High School Students Signature Campaign executive committee from my third year of middle school until graduating high school. In 2009, I went to the European UN Headquarters in Geneva as a High School Student Peace Ambassador with the same organization, and I also participated in the 2010 NPT Review Conference as a member of [the Nagasaki-based NGO] Global Citizens for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. After entering university, I was interested in learning more about nuclear power and the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets and other security-related laws; at that time some friends and I founded the Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ), Students Against Secret Protection Law (SASPL), and Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs). In 2015, I participated in the NPT Review Conference for a second time as the NPO Peace Depo’s youth representative. I’m currently working with hibakusha to demand a nuclear ban treaty.

Please introduce the activities you’re currently involved in. Why were you interested in them, and how did you start participating?

I’m currently serving as campaign leader of the Hibakusha Appeal, which uses a signature campaign to spread the call for a nuclear ban treaty. To that end, I’m in contact with many partner organizations throughout the country to report on our activities in a bulletin magazine, I put on workshops about nuclear weapons to raise awareness about this issue, and I also make posters and graphics. Since I’m the contact point for individuals and organizations, I do phone, email, and in-person meetings, so I’m in communication with many people every day. It can feel like I’m shouldering all of the public relations for the Appeal.

About how I got started: First of all, my background as a third-generation hibakusha from Nagasaki is definitely part of my identity. But I only started to properly face my identity as such when I moved to Tokyo for university. Until then, I was surrounded by so many first, second, and third generation hibakusha that it didn’t seem like a special characteristic. I started to participate in social activism in my third year of middle school thanks to an invitation from a former elementary school teacher. I enjoyed speaking to people I wouldn’t normally be able to in school and became completely absorbed in those activities.

Have your opinions or feelings changed since the time you began participating in peace activism? Did any particular experiences make a strong impression?

When I was a high school student, I had many chances to meet with students coming to Nagasaki on school trips — that left an impression. Through our exchanges, I realized I had grown up in a unique environment, having connections to hibakusha in my daily life and learning about the atomic bombing every summer. At the time, the problem of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal was often raised, and it was frustrating that I didn’t have a good answer when people would say to me, “Japan needs to have nuclear weapons in order to protect itself from North Korea!” That when I started studying nuclear disarmament.

What do you think about the global nuclear ban movement? Within that movement, what is the role of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

It’s been about 10 years since I became involved in these activities, and back then I wouldn’t have thought that in 2017 UN negotiations would be taking place regarding a nuclear ban treaty. We’ve still got a long way to go down this road, but I feel that just being able to see a path is a big development in itself.

One of the main reasons the UN is holding nuclear ban treaty talks is that since 2010 “the inhumanity of nuclear weapons” was the focal idea of anti-nuclear activism. We gained concrete victories using the “inhumanity” argument, and it was important for hibakusha to share their experiences of the bombings with the world in order for our arguments to be based in reality. In particular, I feel it’s necessary to convey how hibakusha had to live in the postwar period, with regard to the long-term social, mental, and physical damage that comes with experiencing an atomic bomb.

Activism related to peace and a nuclear ban is difficult, and there are no easy solutions to the problems of war and nuclear weapons. Against this background, how do you keep up your motivation and a positive attitude toward your work?

Hayashida-san eating chirashi sushi made by a hibakusha … It’s clearly delicious.

The anti-nuclear movement has been one of the largest social movements in Japan since 1955. For this reason, we have associates and friends all over Japan, as well as through many generations of people. The U.S. and Europe-centered anti-nuclear movement that began after the Cold War also exists throughout the world. Allies of this movement throughout Japan and the rest of the world give me great encouragement.

What’s the role of young people in peace activism?

No matter where they come from, young people inherit history and shoulder the burden of the future. Because we young people are the ones who will create society going forward, I think we need to have a vision of what kind of society we want to live in. I think the same principle applies to a world without nuclear weapons. If we can’t envision a world without nuclear weapons, we won’t be able to realize it.

Global problems are of course not limited to nuclear weapons. We could make an endless list of problems like disparity, poverty, religious intolerance, etc. But I wonder if these various problems all have the same root.

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Students in Chicago Put On Atomic Bomb Themed Art Exhibit

Eighth-grade students from Chicago’s Polaris Charter Academy, led by teacher Carrie Moy, recently exhibited their atomic bomb themed artwork at 345 Art Gallery. Ms. Moy’s class spends the entire year studying the atomic bomb, and the class collaborated with the Japanese Culture Center in Chicago to express through art what they learned.

Students with their artwork

The art exhibit came about after the class visited the Center’s “Hiroshima-Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Exhibition,” which was held in October 2016 and used materials on loan from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. After a discussion with Japanese Culture Center Director Saira Chambers about Hiroshima-Nagasaki, the class decided to put on their own exhibition. Ms. Chambers visited their classroom and helped the students work through and express their ideas.

Gallery 345 is run by a Chicago police officer, who donated the space to the community to hold events. According to its website, the gallery is meant to be “a space to showcase art as a form of social engagement.”

Students happily receive copies of “Paper Crane Journey”

The students received copies of “Paper Crane Journey” from ANT-Hiroshima during the gallery event. Ms. Chambers said the students were grateful for the books and happy to “know there were people listening to them far away.”

The Japanese Culture Center plans to collaborate with the class again for August 6 commemoration events, as well as continue working with Ms. Moy’s classes in future years.

A student discusses his artwork with Professor Miyamoto

DePaul University Professor Yuki Miyamoto also attended the exhibition. Professor Miyamoto teaches classes on the atomic bomb and takes a group of students on a study trip to Hiroshima and Nagasaki every other year. The humble writer of this blog met her when she brought her students to the UNITAR Hiroshima Office last December.

From left to right: Yuki Miyamoto, Carrie Moy, Saira Chambers

Ms. Chambers is passionate about sharing what she’s learned about Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the atomic bomb. She said, “Chicago also has a deep history with the atomic bomb, and there is a community of dedicated advocates for knowledge and understanding of the topic here.” As the Center’s director, she supports “anyone who wishes to learn about this part of our collective past and how to make this a positive lesson for the future.”

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Hiroshima-Nagasaki Exhibit At The Mindanao Peace Forum

Picture+3A 10-day peace Training Programme for Young Leaders took place at the Ifugao State University in The Philippines from 7th to 16th February.The theme of the training programme was “Postwar Reconstruction and Peace Building,” in the wake of conflicts between the Philippine government and Muslim separatists on the island of Mindanao in the south of the country, as well as a more widespread conflict with communist guerillas across the country.Over 160,000 people were killed and over two million people were forced to flee from their homes as a result of the conflicts in The Philippines over the last decade, exacerbating the widespread poverty that was one of the causes of the conflict.

Last year a delegation of Philippino Youth Leaders came to Japan as part of a peace study group. Earlier this year Tomoko Watanabe of ANT-Hiroshima visited Mindanao Island as part of a fact finding tour and ANT-Hiroshima hopes to become more involved in peace and reconciliation work in The Philippines as a result.

ifugaovolunteersThe photograph, left, is of a group of volunteers at the  who are representing the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Exhibit and the Mindanao Peace Forum in Ifugao, in The Philippines.

The activity was a joint effort organized by JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), Ifugao State University and various Japanese and Philippino NGOs such as the Cordillera Green Network.

A group of Hiroshima residents also took part in the activity as “resource personnel” who helped with the various lectures during the ten day event.

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Hiroshima-Nagasaki YES Campaign In Action At The Hiroshima Flower Festival

The Hiroshima Flower Festival, held during the “Golden Week” holiday in early May every year since 1977, attracts over a million people. The festival is held on Peace Boulevard, which runs on an East-West axis across the city. Half way along its course, Peace Boulevard passes Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park .

During the festival there are parades, concerts, dance, fashion and talk shows with both local citizens and celebrities taking part.

This year supporters of the “YES! Hiroshima-Nagasaki Giteisho” (or “YES Campaign”) were also present at the Flower Festival campaigning for support for the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol for a nuclear-weapon-free world by 2020. They were joined by artist Seitaro Kuroda who has been actively supporting the YES! Campaign through his art work and who drew pictures and created some artwork at the Flower Festival to attract passers-by.

Here is a video of the YES! Campaign in action at the Flower Festival:


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Yes! Campaign Sells Over 10,000 Books…

20091117114250269_en_1_originalThe “Yes! Campaign” reports that over 10,000 of its books about the “Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol,” have been sold less than four months since the book was published.

The book is being promoted by a group of A-bomb survivors (hibakusha) who are touring Japan in order to publicize the protocol. So far they have visited Hokkaido, Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa, Hyogo, Okayama, Tottori, and Shimane.

According to Maeko Nobumoto, secretary general of the group, they are “sensing the growing momentum for nuclear abolition.”

The “Yes! Campaign” wants the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol to be adopted at the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in May 2010. They are planning to lobby the Japanese government in the hope that the government will agree to ask the conference to discuss the protocol.

The “Yes! Campaign” book includes the text of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol and is illustrated throughout by the well known artist, Seitaro Kuroda.

If you would like a copy of the “Yes! Campaign” book, please contact ANT-Hiroshima at: ant@ant-hiroshima.org.

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Green Legacy Hiroshima