National

A-bomb icon's brother appeals in N.Y. for peace

NEW YORK (Kyodo) Relatives of Sadako Sasaki, who died a decade after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and families of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S. joined together Monday to pledge their utmost efforts to make the world free of war.

Sasaki’s older brother, Masahiro, 68, was invited to a dedication ceremony for a paper crane folded by his sister that he donated to the Tribute WTC Visitor Center in 2007.

The ceremony near where the World Trade Center stood coincided with the opening in New York of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference, which runs through May 28.

The story of Sasaki trying to fold 1,000 paper cranes to be granted her wish to live is known the world over. She died from leukemia on Oct. 25, 1955, at age 12. She contracted the disease from exposure to atomic fallout at Hiroshima when she was a toddler.

Most of the 1,000 paper cranes have been donated to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, but the Sasaki family kept five until 2007.

As a way to promote international peace, her brother decided to donate one each of the remaining five cranes to the five continents.

He donated one to the Tribute WTC Visitor Center when he visited New York in September 2007, the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The crane has been on display at the visitor center since 2009.

Masahiro Sasaki said in a speech at the ceremony that his sister did not complain of pain during her last days in the hospital. He said his sister died after saying, “Thank you.”

“The grief of families whose loved ones were killed in the terrorist attacks is the same as the grief of families of the victims of the atomic bombings,” he said.

“I am convinced that your spreading Sadako’s feelings will lead to peace,” Sasaki said.

He decided to donate his sister’s paper crane to the museum after learning that cranes folded by Japanese family members and friends of Fuji Bank employees killed in the terrorist attacks were hung there as a tribute to their memory.

The Tribute WTC Visitor Center was created by the September 11th Families’ Association to share the personal stories of victims, survivors, rescue and recovery workers and volunteers. It has five galleries and offers walking tours.