Thirty youth from 23 countries gathered at the International Youth Summit for Nuclear Abolition in Hiroshima to learn about, share ideas and make plans to increase youth engagement in the nuclear disarmament movement.
The Summit, held August 28 to 30, was hosted by Soka Gokkai International and co-organised by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Mines Action Canada, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and us, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
The summit began with a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and surrounding Peace Memorial Park, close to the hypocentre of where the atomic bomb hit at 8:15 a.m. on 6 August 1945. Each participant could visit the museum at their own pace and let the exhibition sink in. Afterwards, we paused at the cenotaph to remember, to reflect and offer flowers to those lives that were taken too soon.
In the afternoon, participants met with Ms. Toshiko Tanaka, a survivor of the Hiroshima nuclear attack on 6 August 1945 and well-known enamel artist. She survived the attack at 2.3 km from the hypocentre. Though she only recently started to tell her story, she shared her experiences with a very captive audience.
A conversation with the Mayor of Hiroshima, Mr. Kazumi Matsui, followed. He offered a brief introduction and afterwards participants discussed the special role of the city of Hiroshima and ways to engage decision makers in order to advance nuclear abolition.
And from each other
The following day focused on peer-to-peer training sessions, to review the previous day, and agree on actions for the future. Workshops were held on how to best reach out to younger people, uniting the movement and how gender matters for nuclear disarmament. In the afternoon, in a joint brainstorming session resulted in concrete commitments by participants for the coming year.
Expanding the circle
The two days of intensive work prepared the group to host a public forum on 30 August 2015 for 250 young people from across Japan. During its opening session, dignitaries such as the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth addressed the forum and its participants all stressing the important role of youth for advancing nuclear abolition. Following the opening session, Naomi Tagawa, (on a Hibaku Piano: a piano that survived the nuclear attack) performed and “Hiroshima Lost – A Labor of Love”, a film by filmmaker and Hibakusha, Mr. Masaki Tanabe, premiered. The film demonstrated the daily life in Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, before and after the bomb was dropped.
To inspire attendees for the afternoon brainstorming session, young activists from Japan, Kenya, Romania, Thailand, and the United States presented their successful youth campaigning to the audience. The following action planning session encouraged forum attendees to use their newly acquired knowledge, about the horrific impacts of nuclear weapons, to actively pursue nuclear disarmament.
“It is time to take action.”
The International Youth Summit concluded with the presentation of a youth pledge entitled Generation of Change: A Youth Pledge for Nuclear Abolition. The pledge is open for signature now!
Signatories pledge to: “encourage others to join the nuclear abolition movement and establish a strong unity among all nuclear abolition campaigners; [and] call upon every State to start negotiations on an international treaty for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” among other actions.
The pledge with the opportunity to sign on is available online at: www.internationalyouthsummit.org/pledge/
Want to see for yourself?
Have a look at Facebook for some pictures and impressions from Hiroshima!