Workshop and Symposia

SGI-UK Hosts Hibakusha at Hiroshima Peace Day Events

Mrs. Emiko Yamanaka
Mrs. Emiko Yamanaka

From September 8-15, 2012, SGI-UK hosted three official Hiroshima Peace Day events in Birmingham, London and at SGI-UK's Taplow Court center near Maidenhead, to commemorate the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan and the 55th anniversary of second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda's call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Over 400 people attended the events.

This year, SGI-UK hosted a visit from Soka Gakkai members from Hiroshima, Japan, including Emiko Yamanaka, a 78-year-old hibakusha. Ms. Yamanaka was just 1.4km from ground zero when the bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945. Now living happily in Hiroshima as a grandmother of seven, she shared her struggle to win in the face of the greatest of adversities.

Masaru Tanaka, whose father survived the bombing of Hiroshima, described how his family history led him to establish his Art Peace project and to collaborate with US artist Betsie Miller-Kusz, whose father was a scientist on the team that developed the atom bomb.

Hiroshima Peace Day participants at Taplow Court
Hiroshima Peace Day participants at Taplow Court

Toshiko and Masanori Shinagawa, both Soka Gakkai Peace Committee members from Hiroshima, also spoke about their experiences. Mr. Shinagawa said he was pleased to see so many SGI youth members committed to the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Ms. Shinagawa, whose grandmother also died in the atomic bombing, shared her "search for her mission as a Hiroshima citizen." She determined to work alongside the youth members towards 2015, the 70th anniversary of the first atomic bombing, to realize a peaceful and nuclear-weapon-free world.

Shoko Ishida, director of a radio program in Hiroshima, described her wish to broadcast more hibakusha experiences in the lead-up to 2015.

Other speakers at the meetings included Tirion Dowsett, a 15-year old SGI-UK member from Wales, who recently won the title of Best Individual Speaker for a school speech contest in her area with a speech titled "All Nuclear Weapons Should Be Abolished."

SGI-UK Youth Peace Committee Leader Manuel Fernandez gave a keynote lecture on Josei Toda's call to abolish nuclear weapons. One Youth Peace Committee member described how she held a 100-day dialogue campaign on nuclear abolition following her participation in the student division nuclear abolition survey in 2010.

Leading up to the Hiroshima Peace Day event in Birmingham on September 8, members in the area studied and held discussion meetings on the topic of nuclear abolition. On the day of the event, Dr. Jason Hart, a lecturer at the University of Bath Spa, gave a talk in which he said that by undertaking their human revolution, SGI members can help lay the foundation for the happiness and security of future generations. He continued, "It is not enough to ban nuclear weapons: we have to change the darkness in human life that has given rise to such weaponry and has led, in the case of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to their use."

[Adapted from a report by SGI-UK; photos courtesy Deborah Ripley]

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