[Report] Hiroshima-ICAN Academy 2021 Special Program
On March 13 and 14 2022, we held the Hiroshima-ICAN Academy* 2021 Special Program for the 2020 and 2021 program participants, which live broadcasted hibakusha’s testimonies, and a virtual tour of the A-bombed remains and commemorative facilities in Hiroshima.
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person portion of the program in Hiroshima was cancelled in both 2020 and 2021. Thus this program was designed to show the humanitarian consequences of the atomic bombing on Hiroshima through a virtual meeting platform.
*Hiroshima-ICAN Academy: A training program to cultivate youth into future global leaders in nuclear disarmament and peacebuilding.
On March 13, two hibakusha, Mr. Lee Jong Keun and Ms. Chieko Kiriake, detailed their experiences respectively from the Kojin Bridge and the Former Hiroshima Army Clothing Depot, both preserved A-bomb remains sites.
Mr. Lee shared his experiences on Kojin Bridge from the moment of the detonation, and the discrimination that he faced as both a South Korean immigrant and a hibakusha.
He told the participants that “I’m feeling despondent to hear the news that Russian troops attacked a nuclear power plant in Ukraine. I would like people around the world to know about the fear of nuclear weapons”.
Next, in a live broadcast from the Former Hiroshima Army Clothing Depot, Ms. Nao Fukuoka, one of the program coordinators, began by introducing the history of the buildings. She then interviewed Ms. Chieko Kiriake about her experiences immediately after the atomic bombing. Ms. Kiriake recounted how when she helping in aid work at the depot while being injured herself, she saw people with faces burned so severely that she couldn’t recognize who they were.
On March 14, we broadcasted virtual tours from both the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the Peace Memorial Park. Ms. Mary Popeo, co-founder and Business Director of the Peace Culture Village, a Hiroshima-based nonprofit organization focused on peace education and peace tourism in Hiroshima City, gave a virtual tour of the museum. Ms. Popeo began by introducing people’s daily lives in the former Nakajima district, present day Peace Memorial Park , and then explained the destructive power of the nuclear explosion. She then concluded by showing items on display at the Peace Memorial Museum, including the belongings of atomic bomb victims, as well as photos and paintings which convey the humanitarian consequences of the atomic bombings.
Ms. Annelise Giseburt, one of the program’s coordinators, introduced Peace Memorial Park by showing videos of the facilities, including the A-Bomb Dome, the Rest House, and the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound.
To conclude the program, Ms. Mary Popeo, Mr. Akira Kawasaki, the International Steering Member and President of ICAN, and Ms. Nao Fukuoka gathered for a live broadcast from the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims.
One participant asked about the role of Hiroshima in the Ukraine Crisis, and Ms. Giseburt responded that “It’s important to remember that war, in general, is devastating, and we must continue to work on that front as well, even as we work on nuclear abolition issues”.
During the early stages of its invasion of Ukraine, Russia mentioned nuclear weapons in official statements, and asserted that in order to keep global society, particularly UN member nations in check, Russia has put its nuclear missile corps on high alert. It has been said that the threat of nuclear war is currently at its worst since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
Moving forward, Hiroshima Prefecture will continue to collaborate with ICAN to cultivate future global leaders, who will make concrete contributions to create a more secure and peaceful world.
You can watch the videos of the Special Program below.