NPDI ministerial meeting: Elementary, junior high school students convey hopes for peace to participants

by Hisashi Kawate and Kyosuke Mizukawa, Staff Writers

On April 12 local elementary and junior high school students conveyed their hopes for peace to participants in the ministerial meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) during a special event in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Each of the junior high school students read a short message in English to the representatives and then presented them with copies of it. The elementary school students gave the participants folded paper cranes.

A total of 24 students representing 12 elementary and 12 junior high schools met the foreign ministers, who had come to the park to lay flowers at the memorial cenotaph. The junior high school students delivered short messages of about 1 minute in which they conveyed their desire for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The elementary school students presented the foreign ministers with 1,000 paper cranes along with messages expressing a desire for world peace. The ministers smiled as they shook hands with the children and thanked them.

Hana Maeda, 14, a third-year student at Futaba Junior High School in Higashi Ward, read a message to Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. “I hoped to inspire the foreign minister with our desire for peace,” she said. “I felt like he understood my feelings.”

Hinako Fukuyama, 11, a sixth grader at Kochi Elementary School in Saeki Ward, presented paper cranes to Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. “I’m glad I could tell him directly of my desire for a world without war,” she said.

In front of the memorial cenotaph about 700 local citizens welcomed the foreign ministers, waving small flags of each nation.

(Originally published on April 13, 2014)