TOKYO, July 29, Kyodo - While people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki attend annual ceremonies to mark the 1945 atomic bombings of the cities, some Japanese are leading efforts to share the experiences of survivors with people outside Japan.
Young and old people connected to the Nagasaki bombing are actively involved in discussions in Europe on nuclear issues and are calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons in the hope that the new century will be free of war and weapons of mass destruction.
Hisataka Izumi, 63, a resident of Germany for about 30 years, leads a group of Japanese who have organized, with three German cities, A-bomb exhibitions over two years, attracting about 20,000 people. A fourth exhibition will be held from Saturday to Aug. 15 in Dusseldorf with cooperation from the city's mayor Joachim Erwin.
Meanwhile, three high school girls from Nagasaki Prefecture will visit the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva and the Dutch city of Amstelveen, just south of Amsterdam, in late August to call for the worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons.
Izumi's exhibitions in Berlin, Hannover and Fuerth featured photo displays, documentaries and remnants from atomic bombing, such as a burned clock, clothes and bottles. They also contained information on nuclear affairs in the world today. The city governments of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have leased the exhibits to Izumi.
''We hope the planned exhibition will help locals and Japanese residents in Dusseldorf share the belief that Japan and Germany, both of which fought in World War II, will lead the world in creating peace in the new century,'' Izumi told Kyodo News by telephone from his home in the western German city of Meerbusch.
A native of Fukuoka Prefecture, Izumi spent four years in Nagasaki from 1957 as a university student. He has been running a consulting firm in Germany since 1974 after working for Kobe Steel, Ltd. for about 10 years.
Izumi launched the 23-member Volunteer Group for Supporting Atomic Bomb Exhibitions in Germany in late 1999 because he still had vivid memories of Nagasaki even after leaving the city about 40 years ago.
''When I first arrived in Nagasaki I was surprised to see the city in total ruin even 12 years after the war,'' he said.
''What shocked me the most was that locals made it taboo to say that they had been exposed to radiation. Only close friends confessed to me that they were A-bomb survivors, and some feared that they may have a deformed child.''
Izumi says the group plans to ask another 30 German cities to hold similar exhibitions in the near future, adding that Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba has sent letters to the cities' mayors requesting their cooperation with the plan.
The three Nagasaki high school girls to visit the United Nations will also ask the city government of Amstelveen to set up a permanent A-bomb exhibition in the city. If realized, it would be the first permanent A-bomb exhibition in Europe.
The ''peace envoys'' from Nagasaki, consisting of Chisako Tsutsumi, Yuko Nozoe and Emi Nogi, whose grandparents suffered from the A-bombing of the city on Aug. 9 1945, said they will meet in Geneva U.N. officials in charge of arms control on Aug. 24.
''I want to tell the world through the U.N. the tragedies the bomb brought to my city and Hiroshima. I want to ask the international community to draw up specific measures to prevent the recurrence of such a tragedy,'' Tsutsumi, 17, said.
''My mother always told me it was significant that I was born in Nagasaki. I have been told that I have a mission to send the city's message to people living in other parts of the world.''
Nobuto Hirano, a leading figure of the peace movement in Nagasaki who will accompany the students to Europe, said he is poised to work with the Nagasaki prefectural and city governments and the Amstelveen government to realize the envoys' proposal to set up the permanent exhibition. A Nagasaki citizens' network known as Antinuclear Network is supporting the dispatch of the youth mission to Geneva and Amstelveen.
''A permanent exhibition will also lead to further exchanges and understanding between Japan and Europe. With the average age of A-bomb survivors over 70, we must find ways to tell their experiences to younger generations in Japan and abroad,'' he said.
During the planned meeting with the U.N. officials, the Nagasaki girls plan to present papers bearing signatures of more than 10,000 high school students in Japan wishing for worldwide peace. The signatures will be accompanied by 10,000 folded-paper cranes in a gesture of peace.
The students said they will ask the city government and assembly of Amstelveen on Aug. 27 to set up the permanent exhibition in a library to be built on Dejima Street, which is being constructed to commemorate the 400th anniversary of relations between Japan and the Netherlands.