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Emiko Okada: the story of an atomic bombing survivor (Part Two)

This is part two of a series in which we are uploading the English translation of an interview with Emiko Okada, a survivor of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. Her whole story will be told in parts, detailing her early life before the war, her experience in the bombing and its aftermath, her life in the decades following the bombing, and her activism in recent years, in posts over the next few weeks. The interview was conducted in Japanese and has been translated so that her story can be spread around the world, to encourage people to think more deeply about peace and the role of nuclear weapons in the world today. The interview was spoken and has been translated as is, so read it as if somebody was talking to you.
Part one, in which Okada-san speaks of her pre-war life and experience in the bombing, can be accessed here.

Living through the devastation

My father’s struggle

After the bomb fell, my dad had not only felt great guilt at losing his daughter, but both guilt and difficulty that the same middle schoolers he had been giving a radical military education to, he now had to teach about the sanctity of life and democracy; the middle schoolers who had survived, anyway.

During the war, even though they were officially middle schoolers, they were receiving the same education as the military. As the evacuation point for Matsumoto Commercial School was in Danbara, in the shadow of Mount Hijiyama, most people survived. They spent three days trying to clean away rubble in the care of the teachers, but were sent home. Within ten days, the war finished.

Now, he had to teach those same students democracy; my dad was very conflicted. As it was the same school, the same students. They blacked out all of the textbooks, and had to teach the importance of life this time around.

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Emiko Okada: the story of an atomic bombing survivor (Part One)

This is part one of a series in which we will be uploading the English translation of an interview with Emiko Okada, a survivor of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. Her whole story will be told in parts, detailing her early life before the war, her experience in the bombing and its aftermath, her life in the decades following the bombing, and her activism in recent years, in posts over the next few weeks. The interview was conducted in Japanese and has been translated so that her story can be spread around the world, to encourage people to think more deeply about peace and the role of nuclear weapons in the world today. The interview was spoken and has been translated as is, so read it as if somebody was talking to you.

Please click photos to open them bigger and have a closer look. Freshened up photos courtesy of Takeo Nakaoku.

The precious ‘normal’ days I spent in Onagachō

   
Emiko Okada (in her mother’s arms), with her older sister Mieko (middle) and her aunt, pictured on the left. (Photo taken 1937)

The birth of Emiko Okada (née Nakasako)

This is the first time I’ve told this old story like this. Though I am telling people about my experience in the nuclear bombing. It feels like I’m starting to get senile. Whilst I can still remember, I want to tell my story to those I meet. I’m starting to lose confidence in my memory.

I was brought up three doors down from where Setōuchi High School is now, in a place called Onagachō. I was called Nakasako. Emiko Nakasako. My birthday is the first of January, 1937.

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Spreading Peace through Animation

Created by founder of the Funkor Child Art Center Fauzia Minallah, and produced by ANT-Hiroshima, the animated short-film “Amai and Sadako’s Prayer” won first place in the 2018 MY HERO film festival.

Telling the story of Amai, the bird of light, along with her friends Babai and Janoo as they travel the world and meet Bibi, a girl from a war-torn country. Amai tells them the story of Sadako, another innocent victim of war, teaching the three of about hope, friendship and peace.

It was received very well by attendees at the festival. A Japanese-language version is also in the works at the moment as well. Please, do take a look at “Amai and Sadako’s Prayer” below.

 

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Winners of Peace Poster Contest Pay Visit to ANT-Hiroshima

The winners of a peace poster contest, sponsored by Sagamihara City in Kanagawa Prefecture, paid a visit to the ANT-Hiroshima office in October. Serving as “Sagamihara City Peace Ambassadors,” Taisei Umezawa and Hiyori Yokoyama came to Hiroshima to learn about the atomic bombing and issues involving nuclear abolition and peace. Tomoko Watanabe, the executive director of ANT-Hiroshima, welcomed the two students and shared the details of her peace-building work with them.

With a desire to advance peace education efforts in the city, Sagamihara’s Citizens’ Peace Forum called for submissions of peace posters from local elementary school and junior high school students. A total of 298 posters were received, with 169 posters created by elementary school students and 129 posters created by junior high school students. One Grand Prize was then given to each of these two groups. The winning posters, along with 30 others that were selected, are being displayed in Sagamihara during the month of November.

The winning poster from the elementary school submissions is titled “For a Peaceful Future” and was made by Taisei Umezawa, a sixth grader at Ono Elementary School. Incorporating the idea of diversity, with people, animals, plants, and the A-bomb Dome in the background, the colorful poster conveys an energetic future of lives lived in peace.

The Grand Prize for the junior high school submissions was awarded to

 Hiyori Yokoyama, a third-year student at Unomori Junior High School. Her poster features a paper crane that bears symbols of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With a message of peace and the lessons learned from the A-bombed cities, the paper crane is flying over the globe and passing on the spirit of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the world. “Spreading the Message of Peace” is the title of her poster.

ANT-Hiroshima congratulates these two students, as well as all the young people who took part in this peace poster contest. With their vision, and their efforts, they will surely help to build stronger and wider peace in the world.

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ICAN’s Tim Wright Speaks with Young People in Hiroshima

ICAN Treaty Coordinator Tim Wright visited Hiroshima 20-23 July 2018 at the invitation of the Chugoku Shimbun newspaper, Hiroshima City University, and Nagasaki University’s RECNA as the keynote speaker at their symposium “Opening the Door to Peace: The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and Beyond.” In addition to the symposium, Tim spoke at an event organized by HANWA and ANT-Hiroshima for members of the Hiroshima NGO community, as well as at a casual event for youths titled “What’s ICAN?” And there was another, completely unpublicized event during which Tim gave a handful of Hiroshima’s young people an inside look at ICAN’s campaign. With a focus on the latter, I’d like to expand on some of the lessons Tim shared.

Tim offered no less than 15 examples of actions and campaign methods that ICAN and its partners have implemented over the years. Actions included educating the public on the streets about nuclear weapons, making fun videos, civil disobedience, musical performances, branding, generating one’s own media, and positive messaging through demonstrations thanking supportive governments. In addition to actions that build public attention and support, campaigners employ a number of methods for lobbying politicians, including briefings, asking them to sign ICAN’s Parliamentarian Pledge, meeting with diplomats, and always making sure to speak with people from multiple political parties.

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