• Kyodo

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Two Japanese high school students on Thursday presented UNESCO with a peace petition carrying close to 1 million signatures from Japan in response to the agency’s “International Year for the Culture of Peace” campaign.

Junichiro Iwama, 18, of Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, and Kaori Kabashima, 16, of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, presented the 998,191 signatures pledging “support for peace, respect for life and nonviolence” to UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura.

Iwama and Kabashima, chosen as peace envoys from Japan by the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan, made their own individual peace pledges during the meeting with Matsuura.

“I will strive to eliminate war and food shortages in the new century,” said Iwama, a senior at Mito Agricultural High School.

Officials from the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan said Iwama and Kabashima were chosen as peace envoys out of 704 entries in a nationwide contest for the mission.

UNESCO, which is aiming to collect 100 million signatures worldwide by the end of the year, has already received 60 million signatures, a spokesman said.

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