In Geneva, students from Japan call for nuclear abolition

Kyodo

Student peace ambassadors from Japan earlier this week called for the abolition of nuclear weapons at a reception in Geneva.

In front of about 60 foreign diplomats at an event hosted by the Japanese delegation on the sidelines of the Conference on Disarmament, the 20 high school student ambassadors on Monday shared the stories of victims of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 at the tail end of World War II.

Sawa Yamanishi, a 17-year-old from Nagasaki Prefecture, said during a speech in English that her grandmother, who survived the Nagasaki bombing but lost friends, expressed the hope that others would not be made to endure similar suffering.

“I don’t want many people to be tortured as so many were 73 years ago,” Yamanishi said.

Nemi Kubota and Riko Shitakubo, both age 16 and from Hiroshima Prefecture, introduced the activities of the student ambassador organization — whose official Japanese name is Kokosei Heiwa Taishi (High School Student Peace Ambassadors) — that brings signed petitions opposing nuclear weapons to the United Nations every August. The student ambassadors, who are candidates for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, delivered speeches at the conference between 2014 and 2016 but did not have a speaking opportunity in 2017 due to opposition from China and other countries. The organization dispatching the students decided not to request an opportunity to speak this year.

The petitions submitted by the student ambassadors Tuesday to the secretariat of the Conference on Disarmament were signed by about 110,000 people.