By Dylan Barker-Duggan
The second day of the ICAN Academy commenced with an enlightening exploration of Peace Memorial Park. Participants embarked on a guided tour through the park’s poignant monuments, including the Cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims and the Atomic Bomb Children’s Monument. Each monument’s historical significance was covered, providing insights into the pre-atomic bombing appearance of the park’s structures, their present condition & the symbolism behind the designs.
Following the Peace Park tour, we were captivated by first-hand accounts of atomic bomb experiences shared by four survivors: Kazuhiko Futagawa, Sadae Kasaoka, Toshiharu Goto, and Megumi Motsume. Kazuhiko and Sadae offered a unique perspective on the aftermath of the atomic bomb as they were alive during the bombing. This encounter significantly deepened my understanding of the harsh realities endured by those directly affected.
During a question-and-answer session, a participant inquired about the responsibilities of the United States, as the perpetrator of the atomic bombing. One hibakusha responded with a nuanced perspective, emphasizing the importance of collective global action to prevent a recurrence of such tragedies. Despite the devastation wrought by the atomic bomb, the consensus among participants was to work collaboratively towards peace without assigning blame to specific countries. This was an interesting perspective, not one that I necessarily agree with but it seemed to resonate with the group.
After a lunch with the atomic bomb survivors, the afternoon session featured a lecture by Associate Professor Nurhaitham Azam Arif of Hiroshima City University. The lecture, titled “Special Southern Students Who Survived the Atomic Bomb in Hiroshima,” highlighted the experiences of international students from South-east Asia who resided in Japan before the atomic bombing. Their narratives encompassed daily life, assistance provided to survivors post-bombing, and their own encounters with the atomic bomb. The rarity of hearing stories about foreign survivors underscored the global impact of the atomic bomb, broadening our awareness.
As the day drew to a close, participants engaged with youth activists dedicated to realizing a world free of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima. Insightful discussions delved into the activists’ endeavours and illuminated the path forward for nuclear disarmament. The evening concluded with a spirited exchange of opinions, further reinforcing the collective commitment to shaping a peaceful future.