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Learning from Hibakusha in New York

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Five hibakusha, atomic-bomb survivors, shared their experiences at a meeting at the SGI-USA Culture Center in New York City held on May 11, entitled "Awaken to the Power of One Individual: New York Learns from Atomic Bomb Survivors." The meeting was held during the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

The three men and two women were all exposed to the atomic bomb in Hiroshima in 1945. They were invited to the United States by the NGO "Hibakusha Stories," which brings atomic bomb survivors to the United States to give lectures and take part in exchanges.

The hibakusha shared their experiences with groups of participants, all of whom were deeply moved and made firm determinations toward world peace.

Shigeko Sasamori, one of the five hibakusha, was 13 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She suffered terrible burns. Years later, in 1955, she traveled to the United States as one of a group of atomic bomb victims who came to be known as the Hiroshima Maidens. The women underwent extensive reconstructive surgery thanks to the support of Dr. Norman Cousins, an ardent opponent of nuclear weapons who was instrumental in raising awareness of the plight of the hibakusha. In her presentation she expressed her strong hope for a world without nuclear weapons.

After the presentations participants put questions to the survivors and deepened their understanding.

Toshiko Tanaka, one of the hibakusha, summed up her personal message:

Peace is like the seed of a plant; we need to nurture it with water. Because there are forces out there--emotional ones like hatred, and economic forces--that can lead to a worse situation. War can happen much more easily than we imagine.

That's why I want to nurture the seeds of peace. I really feel that is my mission.

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