to commemorate the 77th year since the atomic bombing of the city.
12 August 2022 Hiroshima, Japan – Every 6 August, Hiroshima and the rest of the world commemorates the 1945 atomic bombing of the city. This year, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and young activists across Japan met for a frank dialogue at the Power of Youth from Hiroshima. In the informal session, the Secretary-General and young people exchanged their views on the challenges for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and innovative solutions to bring about a world free of nuclear weapons.
The Secretary-General was welcomed by the youth panellists, 22 junior and senior high school students from Hiroshima Prefecture, and the co-organizers from United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), United Nations Information Centre, Tokyo (UNIC Tokyo), United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and Hiroshima Prefecture / Hiroshima Organization for Global Peace (HOPe). The event was livestreamed in English and Japanese with 1,255 views tuning in from around the world via UN Web TV, UNITAR YouTube channel and UNITAR Hiroshima YouTube channel.
- Shizuka Kuramitsu, #Leaders4Tomorrow by the UNODA Youth4Disarmament initiative
- Wataru Nakajima, UNITE, Former UNITAR Youth Ambassador
- Suzuka Nakamura, Co-founder and designer of KNOW NUKES TOKYO
- Kento Suzuki, Founder of Personalization Project
- Kako Okuno, Organizer of Fridays For Future Hiroshima
- Hideo Asano, Secretariat Staff at the Japan NGO Network for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (JANA)
- Mary Popeo, Co-founder of Peace Culture Village
In parallel with the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), running from 1 to 26 August 2022, the heart-to-heart session with the Secretary-General offered a space for youth to express the challenges they face as they work towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. It gave the Secretary-General the chance to directly hear the youth advocates’ innovative suggestions and explore areas of collaboration among various industries towards a peaceful world without nuclear weapons.
The Secretary-General opened the session with an apology to young people:
I would like to apologize on behalf of my generation for the state of the world we are leaving to your generation.
He acknowledged the young people’s capacity to engage in and assume responsibilities as we transition roles in the next decades. He also spoke about underlying issues such as climate crises and inequalities.
The Secretary-General encouraged all generations to work together and be prepared and tough amidst the challenges the world continues to face. New technologies, for example, create opportunities for youth to explore and pursue peaceful measures to fight for disarmament, but technologies also bring new risks.
He also mentioned that disarmament is just as important as non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and conventional firearms to save humanity and safeguard future generations.
More opportunities for young people
Youth representation, diversity and inclusion are the common challenges encountered by the young advocates.
We are always seen as idealist or dreamers, but these are real ideas that we need to pursue. -Shizuka Kuramitsu, moderator
They called on local, national and global leaders to broaden the discussion and decision-making to include youth. The panellists are already working towards peace in a sustainable and inclusive manner, and other industries can contribute to the cause.
This year, 2022, marks the 77th anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bombing. The young advocates fear that memories of the tragedy are fading as years go by. They are thus on a mission to involve the public to stay educated, hear stories from hibakusha (atomic bombing survivors) and speak up.
If we do not spread the important words of the hibakusha, we will not be able to eventually hear their stories, so we must speak on the issues now. -Kako Okuno, panellist
Secretary-General Guterres wrapped up by expressing his delight in the day’s discussion. He encouraged young people around the world to realize their capacity in the political system and decision-making processes. He urged all young people to participate – in organizations, institutions and government – and create opportunities, networks and movements, including using social media for peace campaigns.
Be very active in using the instruments, especially social media, in an organized way and in a tough way.
The UN Secretary-General urged the younger generation around the world to continue raising their voices, speak up so other generations hear them.
In closing the session, Hiroshima Prefecture Governor Mr. Hidehiko Yuzaki expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the youth and their initiatives. He acknowledged the continuous efforts by the youth to expand the opportunities and raise awareness towards peace, which can possibly be put into practice in Hiroshima.
Watch the session on UNITAR’s YouTube channels:
The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) provides innovative learning solutions to enhance global and country-level action for a better future. Based in the symbolic city of Hiroshima, UNITAR Division for Prosperity has an inherent interest in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Since 2015, we have been training government officials from Asian countries who are on the front-line of nuclear disarmament negotiations.
The UNITAR Hiroshima Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Training Programme gives participants a deep understanding of the latest nuclear-arms-control debate. Participants learn about the protocols and procedures of disarmament and non-proliferation conferences, such as the NPT Review Conference, and build their communication and negotiation skills.