Grassroots Peace Activities by Hiroshima Citizens, a presentation by Tomoko Watanabe

Tomoko Watanabe was invited by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to give a peace culture presentation to participants in a training course on local government at the end of February.

The trainees were a group of local government administrators from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Tomoko gave a talk and a Powerpoint presentation about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and the grassroots peace activities undertaken by Hiroshima citizens to rebuild the city and spread the message of peace in a world free of nuclear weapons.

Part 1: The Destruction of Hiroshima

In the first part of the talk Tomoko explained to the group what happened when the bomb exploded and described the after effects of the bombing.

  • Hiroshima was reduced to a sea of fire and utterly destroyed.About 140,000 people were killed outright or had died by the end of 1945.
  • About 140,000 people were killed outright or had died by the end of 1945.

The damage caused by the A-bomb was of several kinds:

  • damage caused by heat rays.
  • damage caused by the shock wave.
  • damage caused by radiation (primary & secondary exposure).
  • destruction of social cohesion.

The proliferation of nuclear weapons today was then discussed before moving on to the experience of Hiroshima citizens in rebuilding Hiroshima.

Part 2: Reconstruction & Renewal

So what was the experience of Hiroshima in the aftermath of the war?

  1. From the ashes of the atomic bombing, Hiroshima was able to reconstruct the city, transforming it from a military city to a city of peace.
  2. The survivors of the atomic bombing were able to overcome their own suffering to promote the abolition of nuclear weapons of war.
  3. The city of Hiroshima has come to serve as a touchstone for peace in the world.

What is Hiroshima’s mission?

  1. Conveying the reality of the atomic bombings.
  2. Advancing the abolition of nuclear weapons.
  3. Pursuing peace-building activities.
  4. Promoting peace education and peace culture.
  5. Developing new generations of peace builders.

Tomoko explained that there are two spheres of peace-building:

Public Sphere
Personal Sphere
Human Hearts

To attain a sustainable peace, both spheres, the public and the personal, must be addressed.

In the final part of the presentation, Tomoko explained the role of ANT-Hiroshima in local and international peace education efforts at the grass-roots level.

After the presentation there was a discussion and the participants were invited to write down their impressions of Hiroshima. We will publish their comments in upcoming blog posts.


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