Following the fascinating panels and film on the first day of the G7 Youth Summit, the second day gave us the opportunity to meet with the A-Bomb survivor, Ms. Keiko Ogura. Furthermore, we were also given a tour of the city and Peace Museum. Having never visited the city before, or met anyone who had witnessed a nuclear weapon, I knew this would be both an eye-opening and emotionally intense experience.
The day began with a account from Ms. Keiko Ogura, on her experience living post-bomb. She was just 8 years old when Hiroshima was attacked, and recalled the life path that could have happened if she had gone to school that day. Understandably, witnessing such horror at such a young age was traumatic and something that impacted her from childhood into adulthood. Harking back to the previous day of the summit, her account made the mental and emotional scar it left on individuals clearer. For example, growing up to constant prejudice against her and constant worry about whether the radiation would affect her children.
I strongly believe that listening to her story, through her own words, is the best way to learn and understand more. Please follow this link to watch a video of her giving her account in her old neighborhood of Ushita and the site where she was at the time of the blast: https://rise.icanw.org/keiko_ogura?fbclid=IwAR00nNMckDmM6vrALY30c5aqacJSQAKT7Jviq0oJLYOCOBWx7xKDybbckN8
The next part of the day was a guided tour around the Cenotaph, Memorial Mound, Korean Atomic Bomb Victims Cenotaph and A-bomb Dome. It goes without question that rebuilding the city to what it has become is quite a feat, by forging a modern city that doesn’t shy away from making its history a vocal point on the landscape. This is embraced particularly well through The Cenotaph for the Victims of the Atomic Bomb, which frames the A-bomb dome within its design.
The memorial mound was also particularly poignant, where I learnt about the ashes of the dead who remain there to be collected. Whilst many have been collected, there still remains an estimated 70,000 unclaimed atomic bomb victims below the mound.
The city’s strive for peace is admirable and inspirational, from the Flame of Peace (that will only go out when the world has achieved nuclear disarmament) to the Bell of Peace (which can be rung by the public, as a symbol of creating a world of a true peaceful coexistence without any nuclear weapons).
After the tour, I visited Hiroshima’s Peace Museum. The museum contained imagery and information that particularly helped to humanise the individuals who lost their lives to the bomb. It’s one thing to see the horrifying figures of over 120,000 deaths (with the exact figure still unknown), but learning of the stories and seeing the photos/items linked to individuals really helped me form a stronger connection with what happened. Some examples include the clothes stained with black rain and clocks frozen in time. It therefore disappointed me that the G7 Hiroshima summit failed to deliver progress on nuclear disarmament. If this didn’t wake them up, what would?
Later that day, I was chosen to act as a voice for the British peace movement on a G7 Youth panel. During this time, I talked about what Yorkshire CND have been doing and how we plan to work together with others to help create a nuclear-free world. I also mentioned the correlation I saw between the beauty of both Yorkshire and Hiroshima, with the hilly landscapes in particular making me think what if something similar happened where I live? Could Meadowhall be the next ‘A-Bomb dome’? In all seriousness, Yorkshire is a prime target for a nuclear attack. Menwith Hill and Fylingdales have key roles for information gathering, with their links to the US ‘Missile Defence’ system, which risks triggering a new nuclear arms race between the US and Russia. In light of this, we must remember that these weapons aren’t just regular bombs you might expect on a battlefield (which are bad enough). They are community destroyers. They are world destroyers.
After a busy day, the evening was spent socialising with other representatives attending the conference. A highlight for me was the okonomiyaki, a staple street food of Hiroshima! The Guardian even wrote an article about how this street food that rebuild Hiroshima, which is worth the read:
Part 3 to follow shortly…
Photos supplied by ICAN