A key Japanese member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) on Monday congratulated the survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Geneva-based organization.
“It is an award for everyone who has worked to eradicate nuclear arms,” Akira Kawasaki, an ICAN International Steering Group member and a co-chair of the Japanese nongovernmental organization Peace Boat, told a group of 20 atomic bomb survivors. also known as hibakusha, at a meeting in Tokyo.
ICAN won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts that led to the adoption in July of a landmark U.N. treaty outlawing nuclear weapons. In its campaign, ICAN worked with hibakusha.
Peace Boat, one of ICAN’s main member organizations, has been sailing around the world with hibakusha to tell their experiences to politicians and students worldwide.
When the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the prize on Friday, Kawasaki was flying to Iceland via the United States to be present at an event to share stories of atomic bomb survivors.
At Monday’s meeting, Kawasaki told around 100 participants, including hibakusha in their 80s, about the background of the establishment of ICAN and international affairs in the lead-up to the treaty’s adoption in July.
“Hibakusha’s hard work in telling their stories have been at the root of the attempt to convey the inhumanity of nuclear arms,” he said.
Michiko Hattori, an 88-year-old survivor who has shared her stories abroad, expressed her delight, saying, “I feel rewarded for telling my experience of being exposed to the atomic bomb on that day.”
Michimasa Hirata, 81, said, “The award is just one step forward. I want to demand the Japanese government sign the nuke ban treaty.”
Fumiko Hashizume, 88, said ICAN’s winning of the Nobel Peace Prize has made her think about “the importance of hibakusha staying alive.”
Along with the world’s nuclear weapons states, Japan did not join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted by 122 U.N. members, as it relies on the U.S. nuclear deterrence for protection.
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