Today is the last day of Peace March in Hiroshima. Yatta!
As I have dropped out of the Peace March last month, I am now continuing the original schedule attending the World Conference in Hiroshima. This is the second day of the World Conference where we have an international meeting in the morning and then the big group will be divided into three workshops.
The morning session was a series of introductory speeches by seasoned peace activists from all over the world. The theme is Building Up Public Support and Movements to Achieve a Nuclear Weapon – Free World. The speakers were:
Joseph Gerson from American Friends Service Committee, USA
Jacquelyn Burke, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, UK
Aurelie Royon, French Peace Movement
Narayana Rao, Global Network Against Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
Tomas Magnusson, International Peace Bureau
Yasui Masakuzi, Japan Council Against A & H Bombs (Gensuikyo)
Like yesterday, it was quite an information overload with full of inspiration. I was very moved by their speeches especially with Tomas Magnusson’s speech on describing the human element related to the campaign and the importance of creating a strong grassroots movements in the campaign.
Taka san and Yasui san told me in the morning that they like the speech I wrote for the next day’s session so they requested me to share parts of it that morning. I was able to chop many parts from it and left only three out of 7 points about my experience in the Peace March. In the beginning, I was quite cool as I delivered the speech. However, I ended up cracking my voice and had to pause several times to keep my tears from falling as I remember many good things about the Peace March. It was quite embarrassing to be emotional infront of many people but some people told me they were moved so I am happy with that. 🙂 Several days before the flight to Hiroshima, I was having difficulty starting to write the speech way past the deadline. And when I finally sat down and tried so hard, I was filled with emotions and cried silently while typing away. Perhaps it carried over to when I was reading it. 🙂 I have a strong feeling that Murata san also experience the same when he looks back into his Peace March experience. I’ve seen him red and teary eyed several times in handovers or at some points even though he doesn’t say it. Haha!
And so Aichan, Bunchan and I skipped the remaining parts of the morning program and went to the Hiroshima Peace Park to wait for the Peace Marchers. They have actually arrived in Hiroshima Prefecture since July 26. I met them in a small party last night with a lot of food prepared by the Hiroshima Coop and local organizers. Our party was full of laughter while looking at the pictures during the March. It was like a spot-the-place-and-jokes activity hahaha!
The Murata-san’s group was the last one to arrive inthe Peace Park. Before them were around 4-5 groups from different courses around the city. A total of 400 Peace Marchers gathered in front of the Peace Museum and we had a closing ceremony. It was really a great and memorable day and my tears from the conference were carried over although this time it is easier to rub it off with my new red Gensuikyo wakaba (towel) in the guise of sweat running through my face, haha!
There were many familiar faces from the prefectures we previously marched on. They joined this final stretch and will stay with us up to Nagasaki for the big peace rally. It was really amazing to see all of this and somehow I missed the feeling of getting sweaty and baked under the sun.
Congratulations to everyone! Otsukaresamadeshita!
In the afternoon, three workshops were held simultaneously at different venues. I joined the one that has the same them as this morning’s plenary session. It was a great workshop. Jackie Burke noted the importance of learning ways from the young people on how they campaign. This I think opened an exciting series of suggestions from young people (including me) like exploiting the social media and doing crazy things like flash mobs. 🙂 It was also good to note some insights on the real struggle of young people in doing their part in the campaign. I think the youth is currently has more interest and is getting more engaged in the campaign than ever before. The fact that they are being honest in voicing out the challenges they face and asking tips from the wiser participants is a very good thing. And even though we were discussing grim and serious issues like how militarism drains a country’s budget for welfare and education, There is a feeling of excitement about the many things that we will, can and must do. It is going to be very busy for everyone until 2015!