HIROSHIMA — Although the world has become more aware of the dangers of atomic weapons, nuclear testing continues, Tatsuya Hayashi of the Hiroshima YMCA said August 4 at the opening of the three-day 1997 Youth Peace Seminar.
“Regrettably, the United States recently conducted underground tests of nuclear weapons,” Hayashi told 47 high school students from both Japan and abroad at the Hiroshima YMCA. The event, sponsored by the Hiroshima YMCA Global Community Center, is designed to help high school students learn about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima through a series of seminars, field trips and discussions.
Students are encouraged to support the absolute abolishment of all nuclear weapons, and to reflect upon the horrors of war. The seminar is now in its 20th year.
An account of Aug. 6, 1945, was provided by Suzuko Numata, who survived the bombing. Numata, who was 21 when the bomb fell, took the students through the horrors of the attack and its aftermath, describing the physical and psychological devastation in great detail.
She also passed out photographs of the radiation burns she and other victims suffered. No comments were made, however, about the war situation immediately before the bomb was dropped.
Numata, talking about the prewar years, said war broke out between Japan and China in July 1937, but did not mention Japan’s colonization of Manchuria in 1931. “This was very educational,” said Katie Williams, a 17-year-old student from Wales. “Back home, we only study about our own country and World War I. We learn almost nothing about World War II,” she said.
Although she said she was moved by Numata’s speech, Williams also said she felt that perhaps Japanese people were getting it backward. “We should be talking about world peace and how to obtain it, rather than focusing just on the elimination of nuclear weapons,” she said. “If we can figure out a way to secure peace and stability, the elimination of nuclear weapons will follow.”