Date : July 19 - 20, 2017
Report: Nagasaki & Hiroshima Press Tour
post date : 2017.09.06
In July, just ahead of the August anniversary of the end of World War II, the FPCJ held a press tour to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the only cities in the world to have suffered atomic bombings.
With the 70th anniversary of the end of the war in 2015, and the first visit by an incumbent U.S. president to Hiroshima having taken place in 2016, Nagasaki and Hiroshima have been the focus of renewed interest from around the world. This press tour included interviews with the mayors of both cities, local hibakusha (atomic bombing survivors) and youth, and university and museum officials about the efforts towards peace being carried out in these cities which suffered atomic bombings. Nine journalists participated in this press tour, from USA, Spain, Russia, Korea, Vietnam and Bangladesh.
- Click here for further details on the tour.
★Wednesday, July 19: Nagasaki★
<Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue>
The first stop on the tour was Nagasaki City Hall. Mayor Tomihisa Taue commented, “There is a lot of information about the atomic bombing that people still don’t know about. I’d like you all to report on what happened at that time.”
Journalists continually asked questions for the entire hour, including questions such as “How does Japan remain friendly with the U.S.,” “If the atomic bombs were not dropped, what do you think Japan would have done,” and “What do you think of the Japanese government’s response to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons?” On the topic of having former U.S. president Obama visit Nagasaki, the mayor said, “I still haven’t given up on it. As a leader working towards a world without nuclear weapons, I would like him to come visit Nagasaki, ‘the last city to suffer an atomic bombing.’”
<Hibakusha Mr. Minoru Moriuchi, Vice-Chair of Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivors Council>
The journalists interviewed Mr. Minoru Moriuchi, vice-chair of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivors Council. The atomic bombing occurred while he was in Nagayocho, Nishisonogigun, 4.8 kilometers from ground zero. He was eight years old at the time. The journalists listened closely as he gave vivid descriptions of the reality of the atomic bombing, and his life, activities, and experiences as a hibakusha afterwards.
As a hibakusha, he has been involved in activities to create a world without nuclear weapons, and journalists asked questions such as “Have you felt like you’ve had an impact over the past decade or so,” and “As hibakusha continue to age, what activities would you like to see carried on by others?” Mr. Moriuchi replied, “No matter how much time passes, Japan has to be a leader when it comes to this.”
<Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum>
The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum teaches about the history of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki through easy-to-understand photographs, videos, and other materials. Despite being a weekday before the summer holiday, many people visited the museum on the day of the tour, stopping to carefully read the explanation at each display of what the city and people’s lives were like just before and after the bombing.
One of the journalists took a 360-degree video of the inside of the museum. Recently, 360-degree videos and virtual reality have been gaining popularity in Japan, but they are even more popular overseas.
<Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Nagasaki University (RECNA)>
As part of a university with a firsthand experience of nuclear bombing, RECNA is an educational and research institute working towards the worldwide abolishment of nuclear weapons, and is known globally as a unique institute. Director Tatsujiro Suzuki spoke with reporters about the establishment of RECNA, research performed there, and proposals based on that research. The journalists asked questions about North Korea and cooperation with Hiroshima, and also commented on the research results being released by RECNA, asking, “Aren’t some parts a little too optimistic?” Director Suzuki responded by saying, “Even if it is a little unrealistic, there are things we can do as a university of one of the cities that was bombed.”
< Nagasaki Youth Delegation>
RECNA also supports the activities of the Nagasaki Youth Delegation, a group composed of mostly university students from Nagasaki who attend international conferences to call for the abolishment of nuclear weapons and act as successors to pass on the experiences of the bombing.
The tour met with three members of the delegation who are students at Nagasaki University (Ms. Hanako Mitsuoka, Ms. Risa Nomura, Mr. Atsushi Fukui). As hibakusha age and the number of people who can describe their experiences is becoming an issue, the journalists were impressed at the dedication showed by these youths.
★Thursday, July 20: Hiroshima★
<Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui>
Mayor Kazumi Matsui started off by speaking about the message Hiroshima has been sending to the world as a city that suffered atomic bombing, related initiatives by the local government, and peace initiatives by local citizens.
The journalists asked such a variety of questions there was not time for them all, about what the driving force was behind the reconstruction after the bombing, former U.S. President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The mayor concluded by saying, “Hiroshima is a place that calls to the morality in people so they can accept the reality of the atomic bombing. I hope many people continue to visit in the future.”
<Volunteer Guides: Mr. Kosei Mito, Mr. Masaaki Murakami>
At the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, foreign tourists were being guided by volunteer guides as they visited the Atomic Bomb Dome. Many of the guides are hibakusha, including Mr. Kosei Mito, whose mother was pregnant with him at the time of the bombing. The tour spoke with Mr. Mito and Mr. Masaaki Murakami, a 24-year-old guide who learned from Mr. Mito.
After retiring from teaching, Mr. Mito has been volunteering as a guide in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome almost every day for around 10 years. Mr. Mito showed the journalists his hibakusha notebook and homemade materials explaining the atomic bombing, and the journalists asked him about his feelings as a hibakusha, and his opinion on initiatives by Hiroshima and the Japanese government.
Mr. Murakami has been volunteering as a guide by the Atomic Bomb Dome since he was a fourth-year university student, and now guides by day while working nights. With passing on the experiences of hibakusha being recognized as an issue recently, the journalists were interested in what drives Mr. Murakami to continue volunteering as a guide.
<Hibakusha Interview: Mr. Shigeaki Mori>
Mr. Shigeaki Mori was an elementary school student at the time of the atomic bombing, and he later researched U.S. soldiers who died in the bombing. Mr. Mori became famous when the scene of President Obama and him embracing in May 2016 when President Obama visited Hiroshima made headlines all over the world.
During the interview, Mr. Mori spoke about his years of research, and also spoke in detail about President Obama’s visit. He said that when hugging President Obama at the ceremony, he felt that they understood each other without saying much, and was deeply moved. “That moment felt like a dream, in which my years of effort had paid off.”
< Peace Memorial Museum>
The Peace Memorial Museum in the Peace Park is currently undergoing large-scale renovations, and the East Wing reopened first in April 2017. Before looking at the exhibits, Director Kenji Shiga explained the goal of the renovations and the concept of the exhibits, and journalists asked questions such as “Was there any change in visitors since President Obama’s visit?”
The Main Building is closed for renovations until summer 2018, but the journalists were able to shoot the new exhibit space in the East Wing while being guided by Director Shiga.
<Hagukumi no Sato>
At Hagukumi no Sato, a support facility for people with disabilities located a little outside downtown Hiroshima, they break down the origami cranes presented to the Peace Park and recycle them as new origami paper. Based on the desire to contribute to peace initiatives as someone living in Hiroshima, each person carries out work suitable to their strengths and the nature of their disability.
While filming and photographing the work being done, journalists asked facility users questions about their hobbies and what part of the process they were best at, helping the users gradually relax and making it a very fruitful part of the tour. The recycled origami has been displayed at exhibitions in Tokyo, and there have been a growing number of inquiries from overseas.
★Below are some of the articles and programs produced by the journalists based on this press tour.★
(Titles are provisional translations by the FPCJ)
・Seoul Broadcasting System（Korea）
・ JoongAng Ilbo（Korea）
August 4：Memories of a terrifying battle
August 5：Victims of radiation
August 7：Remembering tragic memories
August 8：No more nuclear weapons
・Vietnam News Agency（Vietnam）