At Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
A group of 11 young people from around the world, who are part of our youth initiative Reverse the Trend and the Marshallese Educational Initiative, visited Japan from April 23 till May 1. Our Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Christian Ciobanu and Benetick Kabua Maddison, the Executive Director of the Marshallese Educational Initiative, co-led the delegation. During their time, the group visited Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, where they met with government officials, civil society representatives, and other youth to engage in discussions on nuclear disarmament.
In Tokyo, the group met with Yuri Sano, the Assistant Director for the Disarmament and Arms Control Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Discussions ranged from Japan’s priorities for the G7 Summit to its current policies on nuclear disarmament and arms control. The meeting was held under Chatham House Rule in order to allow the youth participants to be able to fully express themselves.
In Hiroshima, the group participated in ICAN’s G7 Youth Forum, alongside another 40 youth from Japan and G7 states. The Youth Forum featured addresses by President Ochi of Hiroshima University; Helen Durham, former Director of International Law and Policy at the ICRC; and Ms. Keiko Ogura, a hibakusha. Discussions ranged from the politics of nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament, international law challenges & opportunities, and inclusion and intersectionality issues around nuclear weapons. Several of our participants shared their perspectives about the situation in the Marshall Islands and French Polynesia. We are grateful to both Benetick Kabua Maddison and Tamatoa Tepuhiarii for sharing their perspectives. While in Hiroshima, the youth participants also had an opportunity to meet with Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki of Hiroshima.
Our group also visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. At the end of the Forum, our participants, together with youth representatives from G7 states, produced and read a youth statement. Find the statement here.
Following the Youth Forum, the group traveled to Nagasaki, where they met with first generation hibakushas, Kiyomi Iguro and Shizuko Mitamura, and second generation hibakusha, Kazuhiro Ihara.
After their testimonies, Benetick Kabua Maddison and Tamatoa Tepuhiarii shared their perspectives on the humanitarian perspectives and environmental perspectives on nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands and French Polynesia, respectively. Maverick Peter Seda, a participant from the Solomon Islands, asked questions about the TPNW and how youth can raise awareness about the plight of the hibakusha.
The group also visited the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Museum and Memorial Park, where they learned how Nagasaki coped with the humanitarian and environmental impacts of the atomic bombing.
Following their tour of the Memorial Museum, the group participated in a series of workshops organized by NAPF, RTT, MEI, and the Prefecture of Nagasaki. Two participants from South and Southeast Asia, Hsin Yen Phoebe Mok and Farheen Malek facilitated a workshop on the SDGs, Nuclear Disarmament, and Climate Activism for both our participants and youth from Nagasaki. Additionally, Benetick Kabua Maddison convened a creative arts workshop, where young people expressed their views on nuclear disarmament in a series of paintings.
On the final day of our program, the participants met with Governor Oishi of Nagasaki, where they presented the paintings to him and discussed how young people can collaborate together to create a world free of nuclear weapons.
We are proud of what they have been able to accomplish on this exciting and intense trip and look forward to their continued activism and contributions. We are especially pleased to acknowledge all of the RTT Participants on this trip.