The awarding of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) marked a significant step forward for the anti-nuclear movement.
Terumi Tanaka, co-chairman of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo), experienced the atomic bombing of Nagasaki when he was 13. He vividly remembers the charred bodies of his aunt and other people.
Tanaka has long worked to win public compensation for A-bomb victims, but in recent years he has often been asked why he is working for the deceased.
“There is a gap that can’t be bridged between us and younger hibakusha who have no clear memories (of the bombing) in terms of feelings for the deceased,” said the 85-year-old Tanaka, who now resides in Niiza, Saitama Prefecture.
But at the same time, he said, “We need to forever hand down the stories of the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons.”
Mitsuhiro Hayashida, a 25-year-old graduate school student, has taken part in anti-nuclear campaigns at the invitation of Tanaka. The Nagasaki native and grandson of hibakusha has led an international petition drive since 2016 mainly involving Nihon Hidankyo, to bring the landmark U.N. treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons into force. The pact was adopted in July.
Hayashida, now a resident of Yokohama, has initiated new campaigns, including a crowdfunding drive to cover the overseas travel expenses of hibakusha and a concert in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward aimed at spreading the story of the hibakusha.
He has been motivated by a lot of the hibakusha he became acquainted with in Nagasaki and the Tokyo area.
“I’ve inherited their anti-nuclear determination. I want to ensure the movement will never give up,” Hayashida emphasized.