In cooperation with the Government of Japan, the United Nations recently launched a “Poetry for Peace” contest, inspiring members of the international community to write poetry reflecting on the testimonies of survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Japan, the only country to have experienced the devastation caused by the use of nuclear weapons, is determined to work towards the realization of “a world without nuclear weapons.” To this end, Japan appointed in 2010 a number of “Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons” to share with the international community their experiences of the horrific destruction caused by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan and the UN have worked together to disseminate the testimonies of Special Communicators and other Hibakusha into several languages. These testimonies can now be found on the following websites:
MOFA (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan)
Hiroshima and Nagasaki Peace Memorial Halls
UN Cyber Schoolbus
On 15 September 2011, the UN, in cooperation with the Japanese Government, launched a social media “Poetry for Peace” contest, which invited people of all ages and nationalities to respond to the Hibakusha testimonies in a poem of any form. These poems were posted on the International Day of Peace Facebook page, where visitors voted for their favorite poems.
Between 15 September and 14 October, we received a total of 741 poems testimonies of Hibakusha. The Facebook “like” function allowed visitors to vote for their favorite poems, in turn helping the contest judges to choose winners from among the poems taking into account the numbers of “likes” received by readers.
The top three poems were selected by a panel of judges and announced and read at the permanent disarmament exhibition near the UN General Assembly Hall, which displays a statue of St. Agnes from Nagasaki as well as other remains from the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Two “Special Communicators for a world without nuclear weapons” spoke at the event. The three winners of the contest will receive awards from the Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN. This contest provided an opportunity for people from all over the world to listen to the testimonies of Hibakusha, write poetry, and reaffirm the importance of disarmament and peace.