Ambassador Kodama’s Remarks at the Public Event:
Testimonies of the Hibakusha
26 October 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be here today to introduce Ms. Kazue Sueishi and Ms. Setsuko Thurlow, two of Japan’s “Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons,” during the session of this year’s First Committee.
Ms. Sueishi and Ms. Thurlow, both of whom survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, have been a source of inspiration for many of those advocating the need for nuclear disarmament. They have spoken at many occasions here in the United States and around the world, sharing their personal accounts of the tragic consequences of the use of nuclear weapons. In recognition of their contribution in promoting disarmament and non-proliferation education, the Japanese Foreign Minister this year awarded both Ms. Sueishi and Ms. Thurlow special commendations. For their trip to New York this year, the Japanese Government has appointed them “Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons.”
Japan has been endeavoring to advance disarmament and non-proliferation education. Among many efforts, we have put much emphasis on sharing the experiences of atomic bomb survivors, the hibakusha, with the younger generation. To this end, in August 2010, then Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced a plan to appoint hibakusha as “Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons” to share their experiences about the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons with the wider audience in the international community. Since last year, 33 Special Communicators have participated in 16 events worldwide. Today’s visit of Ms. Sueishi and Ms. Thurlow marks the first appearance of hibakusha in the capacity of Special Communicators at the United Nations. At the same time, Japan is spearheading international efforts for nuclear disarmament by garnering stronger support in the First Committee. This year, we have submitted a resolution titled “United action towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.” This resolution is scheduled to be adopted at this afternoon’s session of the First Committee.
With the cooperation of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the testimonies of hibakusha have been translated into many languages. In order to make them more accessible, especially to the younger audience, these testimonies are now posted on the website of the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
The United Nations has also provided invaluable support for the promotion of disarmament and non-proliferation education. Since Secretary-General Ban’s visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki last year, Japan and the UN have been working closely to advance this objective. For example, the testimonies of hibakusha are now available through the official website of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs. In addition, the UN launched a social media contest entitled “Poetry for Peace” to inspire members of the younger generation to submit poems that they composed after listening the accounts of the hibakusha. There were more than 700 hundred entries for the contest, and we announced the three winners yesterday.
This is one of many ways in which Japan has been working with the United Nations and other countries in the effort to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.
Today, we will hear Ms. Sueishi and Ms. Thurlow deliver their personal accounts. I am most certain that their testimonies will inspire us and once again reaffirm the importance of disarmament and non-proliferation education, which we are now discussing here at the United Nations.
Thank you for your kind attention.