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Youths Get Active amid Aging of Hibakusha

The Japan News
The Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima

HIROSHIMA (Jiji Press) — A sense of commitment to pass on the tragedy of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima to future generations is growing among young people in the city amid the aging of hibakusha survivors of the nuclear attack.

In 2015, Hiroshima launched a project to let junior high school students interact with foreign officials visiting Hiroshima in August, including ambassadors to Japan, telling them about hibakusha’s experiences and the city’s wish for peace in English.

For this summer’s project, 34 students were chosen as “messengers.”

In June-July, ahead of the 78th anniversary of the tragedy on Sunday, they engaged in preparatory activities such as hearing about the atomic bombing from people sharing the memories of the devastation on behalf of hibakusha and interviewing foreign tourists at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

“If [we] don’t pass on [the catastrophe], people’s thoughts for peace will weaken and it will get easier for wars to start,” said Tomoya Hattanda, a 14-year-old third-grade junior high school student.

“Nuclear weapons can’t be reduced by one person alone,” stated 14-year-old Koharu Murosaki, also a third-grader. “I want to tell people that it’s important to put together the power of various people to reduce [nuclear arms].”

Efforts to offer peace education without depending on volunteers have been made recently so that such activities are conducted sustainably as the number of people who experienced World War II is falling.

PCV, a nonprofit organization based in the city, is offering paid services, such as a tour of the memorial park and peace education programs, mainly for students visiting Hiroshima on school trips.

“I received peace education back in school, but there were very few activity options for young people,” said Haruki Yamaguchi, 30, a third-generation hibakusha who works at the NPO.