Hiroshima Memo: Hope for World Children’s Summit in Hiroshima

by Akira Tashiro, Executive Director of the Hiroshima Peace Media Center

Since human beings first appeared on the earth, our species has been beset by war. At the same time scientific development has made life more comfortable for us, it has spawned powerful weapons that are increasingly destructive. The prime example, of course, is the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in which single bombs unleashed wide annihilation, devastating the cities and indiscriminately killing scores of innocent civilians.

About 50 million people perished in World War II. In terms of the value of these lives lost, there is naturally no difference between those in Japan who were killed by the atomic bombings and other Asians killed by the Imperial Japanese Army’s bayonets. Why, then, have Hiroshima and Nagasaki assumed such significance in human history? I believe the answer lies in the fact that the experience of these two cities serves as a ghastly glimpse into the potential worldwide destruction of civilization and the extinction of the human race.

In 1994, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Linus Pauling (1901-1994), the famous American scientist awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and the Nobel Peace Prize, one month before he passed away. Dr. Pauling told me: “During World War II, I believed that human beings could not rid war from the earth. However, when I heard the news that the atomic bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, my belief totally changed. We entered an era in which war should never happen and we should not resort to war in order to solve conflicts between nations.”

Many A-bomb survivors, who managed to endure the devastating attack, sensed that further nuclear warfare could lead to the death of mankind. As a result, they were able to overcome their bitterness toward the United States and bring to life the spirit of “No more Hiroshimas, No more Nagasakis,” which forbids war itself, let alone a nuclear war.

Unfortunately, even in this new century, human beings have not grasped the lesson of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. War and conflict have not disappeared from the earth. Since the Cold War, the risk of nuclear weapons being used has actually increased. In addition, there are such mounting problems as poverty, hunger, food shortages, population growth, environmental pollution, and global warming.

The junior writers of the Chugoku Shimbun, who are teens residing in Hiroshima, produce a newspaper on peace-related concerns, called Peace Seeds, by exploring these issues. And they seek to reflect on matters important to their future with youth from other countries so together they can create a more peaceful world. In this context, our junior writers came up with the idea of organizing a “World Children’s Summit” in Hiroshima, the site of the world’s first nuclear attack, and called on the participants of the G8 Speakers’ Summit to lend their support for this proposal.

These young people are likely to live until late this century. In this regard, it clearly makes good sense that they be given opportunities to influence the future course of our world. The participants of the G8 Speakers’ Summit apparently recognized this in unanimously expressing their enthusiasm for the idea.

With the support of many, we hope that the World Children’s Summit will be held in Hiroshima, perhaps next summer, and we look forward to disseminating news of this event so the fruits of such a summit can be shared with the world. To realize this gathering, we encourage not only the cooperation of the city of Hiroshima, but Speaker Yohei Kono as well, who spearheaded the G8 Speakers’ Summit.

Hiroshima is the ideal site for people to work out ways of peacefully co-existing. In addition to the Children’s Summit, if a summit of nuclear powers could be held in Hiroshima, too, such a meeting might finally help bring the stubborn history of war to an end.

(Originally published on October 6, 2008)

Related articles
Children’s Summit: Expectations and Advice (Oct. 10, 2008)
Children’s Summit, proposed by junior writers of the Chugoku Shimbun, receives G8 support (Sept, 3, 2008)
Junior writers meet with Yohei Kono, Speaker of the House of Representatives (March 28, 2008)