On 15 August, the World YWCA welcomed 22 Japanese Peace Messengers to Geneva. The young men and women students were visiting Switzerland to advocate for an end to nuclear energy and nuclear weapons, to gather signatures for their petition to abolish nuclear weapons, and to share their message of peace at the United Nations.
Many of the young people spoke about the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which took place 71 years ago. Others addressed the great Japanese earthquake in 2011 and the nuclear contamination as a result of the subsequent accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Said one young person: “Five years ago, my hometown was shocked by the great Japanese earthquake. People were scared and encouraged to go other places for fear of contamination. People continue to live in fear as decontamination efforts go on.”
Another focused on the potential harmful effects of nuclear weapons, saying: “Today there are more than 50,000 nuclear weapons in the world and I think that most people believe that a nuclear response is wrong. I want to contribute to activities that seek the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”
Another young woman summed up their mission: “As a young person in Japan it is my duty to tell people living in every corner of the world about Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the realities of nuclear weapons. I believe young people have the potential to achieve true peace.”