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Hiroshima for Global Peace

Hiroshima-ICAN Academy 2022 Participant Interviews

 Since fiscal year 2019, Hiroshima Prefecture and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has been putting together the Hiroshima-ICAN Academy on Nuclear Weapons and Global Security. For this fiscal year, the Hiroshima Session was held between November 9th and 12th, following the Online Learning and Webinar Session. 24 participants from 15 countries gathered in Hiroshima to exchange their opinions in a lively manner. We spoke with session participants Hanna Harris from the United States and Walusungu Mtonga from Zambia.

●Reasons for Applying

Ms. Harris:
I am studying space physics at a graduate school in California. I used to go to the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan in Mitaka, Tokyo for work, and it is there that I came into contact with the culture and history of Japan and gained a particular interest in science and security in East Asia. Although there are some scientists who believe that science and security are unrelated, science is always being used in politics, such as when using GPS to estimate the trajectory of missiles that have been launched in North Korea. I hope to be able to resolve these issues using science diplomacy. Therefore, I applied to this program out of my desire to learn about atomic bombs and nuclear tests in more detail.

Mr. Mtonga:
I am a medical student. My father was also a doctor and worked for IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War), but he passed away in 2017. Because I was still young when my father passed away, I did not have a good understand of what my father was doing. However, as I became older, I started to get interested in the work that my father put his heart into. There is now an organization in Zambia that is a version of IPPNW for medical students, but most people believe that nuclear war is irrelevant to them. I wanted to treat this issue as something that relates to me and thought that coming here would allow me to connect with people from various countries and help me share my message.

●Memorable Moments

Ms. Harris:
It left an impression on me when we broke into small groups and listened to the stories of atomic bomb victims and their relatives. I wanted to know how they overcame the pain caused by the atomic bomb and turned it into the courage to live. Chiyo Miyazaki said, “I do not harbor resentment toward the United States for detonating the atomic bomb.” I thought it might be because of these feelings that Japan and the United States have been able to maintain a relationship of trust since 1945. She is the daughter of an atomic bomb victim who was also a second-generation Korean immigrant in Japan. She engages in activities to help keep alive these stories about experiencing the atomic bomb and also spoke to us about the complicated history between Japan and Korea. I was touched by her bravery in speaking about difficult experiences.

 I was also able to significantly expand my perspective and horizons through the encounters I had with the various people who participated in this session, including Mr. Mtonga the medical student, a mother of three children, and a student of poetry.

Mr. Mtonga:
I listened to the story of a person who experienced the atomic bomb at the age of 14 and remembers the experience in detail. What was most shocking to me was that this person did not speak with anybody about their experience with the atomic bomb until they were in their 70s. This person remained silent out of fear of discrimination. I learned that not only does the atomic bomb destroy cities, it also has a lasting impact on humans.

 I was also impressed by how the city of Hiroshima exceeded my expectations in terms of how much it has recovered. It gives me hope to see that there is such a beautiful city now where there were once the ruins of a city. I felt the passion of the young generation while participating in the session as well. It was very inspiring to know that there are many young people carrying out activities based on a wide range of perspectives, including a 19-year-old American activist and the NPO called ANT-Hiroshima.

●Takeaways from the Session

Ms. Harris:
I realized three things during the session. The first realization relates to water. Since atomic bomb victims went through an experience of desperately wanting water, they have tried to teach their children and grandchildren not to waste water because it is a valuable thing, although the younger generations have a difficult time understanding. This story left an impression on me. The second realization relates to trees. The Hiroshima Peace Trees in Peace Memorial Park are also witnesses of this atrocity, and I learned that atomic bomb victims felt a sense of hope when saplings sprouted from these trees that were also victims of the atomic bomb. The third realization relates to kimchi. Having lived in Korea before, I could strongly relate to the story of a Korean immigrant in Japan being discriminated against for the smell of kimchi.

 Moving forward, I would like to share the things that I have learned through this session with my classmates. I would then like to serve as a bridge that connects young scientists in the future. In particular, I hope to someday organize a version of the six-party talks between Japan, the US, China, Russia, South Korea, and North Korea about security in East Asia for the youth.

Mr. Mtonga:
By actually visiting Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Peace Memorial Museum on this occasion, I was able to get firsthand experience that goes beyond simply obtaining information and knowledge. Through this experience, I feel as though I was able to sympathize with the feelings of atomic bomb victims, such as by silently imagining how things must have been at the time…

 Moving forward, I would like to establish a place where people can interact online, including participants in this academy. My goal is to provide support so that we can deepen our understanding and engage in activities in our home countries. Of course, I hope to have the youth of Zambia participate also.

●Hanna Harris:
Student at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Canadian American currently residing in California.

●Walusungu Mtonga:
Student in the School of Medicine at the University of Zambia. Currently resides in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.

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