NAGASAKI – Survivors of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been invited to attend the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony scheduled for December in Oslo, according to the leader of a group that worked with the Norwegian Nobel Committee to arrange the visit.
“Hibakusha are the best contributors to the campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons. (The invitation) will provide an opportunity to enhance global momentum to prevent the repeat of such calamities,” said Kenjin Abe, chairman of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Survivors Project of Japan.
Such an invitation is rare because people usually invited to the award ceremony are family members or others somehow connected with the winners, according to Abe, an associate professor of social pathology at Toin University of Yokohama.
The invitation is not directly linked to the ongoing process to select Nobel Peace Prize laureates this year, he said. Some atomic bomb victims have been nominated for the award in the past.
The letter of invitation dated Aug. 2 says two representatives, one each from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are expected to attend the ceremony in Oslo City Hall on Dec. 10, Abe said.
From Hiroshima, Emiko Okada, 78, is likely to attend the ceremony. She was 8 years old when the bomb was dropped on her city and spoke about her experience at the U.N. headquarters in 2009.
“I am very pleased to attend (the ceremony) on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing, a milestone year. I would like to tell participants from various countries what happened under the mushroom cloud,” she said.
A selection process is underway in Nagasaki to select the representative of that city.
“We are carefully considering the participation in the ceremony as our members are old, but (the invitation) is wonderful,” said Hirotami Yamada, 84, a member of a group engaged in activities to share the experiences of hibakusha.