2008年08月07日

Colgate University Students visited Hiroshima

Two professors and 29 students of Colgate University in New York State, USA came to Japan on May 24 for peace studies, staying in Hiroshima and Nagasaki until June 2. Their schedule in Hiroshima was arranged by HIROSHIMA SPEAKS OUT.

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Colgate University Students make questions and take notes in earnest

We heard that they were studying the general facts of the A-bombing by reading Masuji Ibuse’s Black Rain and Kenzaburo Oe’s Hiroshima Notes before their trip to Japan.

So we made a schedule for them, with some Hibakushas’talks as the core, so that they could learn that the horror of nuclear weapons is not something in the past, but a horror that exists today.

Particularly they were young people from the US, which is a nuclear power. Since they are the ones who will play central roles in the US society in the future, we wanted them to make the most of this opportunity to think whether or not it is possible to secure peace for their nation by owning nuclear weapons.

They visited the Peace Memorial Museum and listened to a message given by Mr. Steve Leeper, Director of Hiroshima City Peace and Culture Foundation, on the morning of May 24.

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Students taking notes so that they could remember all the contents of his speech

First, Mr. Leeper explained the present situation of nuclear proliferation, and talked about the inequalities of NPT and the loopholes. He also talked logically and comprehensibly about why nuclear weapons should be abolished, what sort of processes would make it possible, and how Hiroshima is exerting itself.

After the speech, some specific questions were asked one after another. Mr. Leeper said that it was his personal view that the present peaceful use of nuclear energy should be converted into other substitute energies, such as solar energy, because of the difficulty and danger of the reprocessing of nuclear waste.

He also said that the development of nuclear weapons requires huge experimental apparatuses compared to that of chemical and biological weapons. Now that surveillance satellites are orbiting around the earth, it is not difficult to discover nuclear facilities. The control of radioactive materials will be thoroughly realized by building an international control system or strengthening IAEA’s authority.

In the afternoon the students had a period to listen to two survivors’ experiences. They learned directly from the survivors how they suffered the losses of families and friends, and how their suffering lasted long after the A-bombing. The students said that they were very shocked, describing their feelings.

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Students listening to a survivor

Later on, they offered the paper cranes they had folded in the US to the Children’s Monument.

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Paper cranes folded by the students are offered to the Children’s Monument
On May 25, they went to Hiroshima Jogakuin University, listened to Prof. Ron Klein about US and Japanese comparative culture, and enjoyed having lunch with HJU students of the English department. They then attended a Cross Cultural Communication class with HJU students.

The students made a day trip to Itsukushima Island on May 27. Then they visited the US military base in Iwakuni, and moved on to Nagasaki on May 28. They were a group of about 30 students, and we thought it might take a long time for them to move from one place to another. The concern was soon swept away. They were youths of more or less 20 years of age, serious and punctual. They kept notes in earnest in each lecture and asked many questions.

We hear Colgate University will continue this kind of tour in the future. We look forward to that with eager anticipation.