Staff writer

Along Omote-sando Dori in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, crowded with hip youth and chic shoppers, a few passersby stopped their stroll last Sunday to hear a group of young people make a rather out-of-place call — an invitation to visit the two South Asian nations that conducted nuclear tests last month.

“We are seeking people to accompany us to India and Pakistan to talk with the locals about the nuclear tests,” shouted three campaigners, holding up a poster with photos of Japanese atomic bomb victims and others who have suffered from past nuclear tests.

Six others asked people on the street to fill out questionnaires on the issue and write or videotape peace messages to the two nations. “We will deliver these voices to Pakistan and India,” said Nao Shimura, 21, one of the two leaders of the 12-day tour scheduled to depart June 19. “We also want to find out how individual people there really feel about nuclear weapons, instead of just hearing (the nations’ official) political comments through the media.”

The tour — which will cost approximately 100,000 yen per person — is being organized by Peace Boat, a nongovernmental group that charters large ships to give passengers more balanced views of historical events and present-day situations around the world.

Shimura and the other campaigners are members of Peace Boat’s “No More Hibakusha Project,” holding antinuclear photo exhibitions. “I never thought that much about nuclear test issues until they talked to us today,” said Kazuna Taguchi, an 18-year-old college student in pigtails who rambled through Omote-sando last Sunday.

After recording a peace message, Taguchi said, “It was interesting listening to them. They are only around our age, but made us think a little about the issue.”

During their trip to Lahore, Pakistan, and New Delhi, the team will exhibit about 80 photos, including shots of atomic bomb victims from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and those forced to leave their homes on Bikini Island after the 1954 hydrogen bomb tests by the United States.

The team is also campaigning in Hiroshima this week and will conduct another round in Omote-sando this weekend. To contact the group, call Peace Boat at (03) 3363-7561.

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