Young people from NPDI member states take part in exchange in Hiroshima

by Kyoji Matsumoto and Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

In conjunction with the meeting of foreign ministers of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), a “Youth Exchange Program for a World without Nuclear Weapons,” hosted by the foreign minister of Japan, opened in Hiroshima on April 11. A total of 10 youths, consisting of two high school students in Hiroshima and high school and college students from seven member states of the NPDI, are taking part. They will discuss ideas for a future without nuclear weapons, and forge ties of friendship among themselves and with citizens of Hiroshima, through April 12.

On the first day of the program, they visited Motomachi High School in Naka Ward. After introducing themselves, one by one, in a classroom of third-year students, they observed a lesson. At Peace Memorial Park, also in Naka Ward, they offered seven bouquets of flowers at the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims, each bouquet representing one of their seven nations.

The young people also attended official events of the NPDI gathering. At the nuclear disarmament symposium, Cailin Molinari, 19, a third-year student at a university in Australia, asked the panelists: “How can civil society put more pressure on the nuclear weapon states?” After the symposium, Nur Moghbel, 18, a third-year student at a Canadian high school, stressed a desire to discuss the inhumanity of nuclear weapons back at school in Canada.

Chiho Kozakura, 16, a resident of Asaminami Ward and a second-year student at Hiroshima University Senior High School, attended a session where the foreign ministers of member nations and A-bomb survivors in Hiroshima shared their views. “Abolishing nuclear weapons is the only way,” she said at the session. Afterward, she said that she would be glad if her words resonated, even if just slightly, with the foreign ministers.

On April 12, in addition to touring Peace Memorial Park to see the monuments there, including the A-bomb Dome, the group of students, along with seven high school students in the city of Hiroshima, will engage in discussion on the subject of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

(Originally published on April 12, 2014)