Youth from seven nations discuss nuclear abolition at NPDI event

by Kyoji Matsumoto and Junji Akechi, Staff Writers

High school students from seven nations, who have gathered in Hiroshima for the meeting of foreign ministers of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), shared their thoughts on realizing a world without nuclear weapons on April 12. The discussion was part of the “Youth Exchange Program for a World without Nuclear Weapons,” hosted by Japan’s Foreign Ministry. The students engaged in a lively exchange from the perspective of youth and vowed to dedicate themselves to advancing peace in the world.

Ten high school students from the program, along with seven high school students in Hiroshima, joined moderator Kazumi Mizumoto, 57, the vice president of the Hiroshima Peace Institute at Hiroshima City University. The students split into three groups for their discussion, with two of the groups calling for U.S. President Barack Obama to visit Hiroshima.

Touching on her visit to Peace Memorial Museum earlier in the day, Elina Radzwill, 16, a participant from Germany, stressed that hearing about the atomic bombing and actually seeing the consequences firsthand are entirely different and that President Obama must pay a visit to Hiroshima in person.

Comments emphasizing the importance of education were also heard, with ideas such as “developing special programs about the inhumanity of nuclear weapons geared to the younger generation” and “spreading peace education, which Hiroshima has been pursuing, to the whole world.” Another proposal involved making use of YouTube to increase momentum for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The participants also listened to the accounts of A-bomb survivors in wrapping up their two-day program. Brooke Sadler, 17, a student from Canada, said that she realized anew, with the A-bomb survivors aging, that younger generations have a significant role to play. Akane Matsuoka, 17, a third-year student at Hiroshima Prefectural Hiroshima Senior High School and a resident of Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, said, “I feel we can work together, beyond nationality and ethnicity, to advance the abolition of nuclear weapons.”

(Originally published on April 13, 2014)