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Young Japanese peace envoys in Geneva

Young Japanese peace envoys in Geneva

August 22, 2017

Young Japanese envoys kept off anti-nuke stage in Geneva



By KEITA MANO/ Staff Writer


Japanese high school students at the annual Conference on Disarmament in Geneva were not allowed to offer speeches on Aug. 22 after other countries questioned their participation on the podium, according to the Japanese government.


The refusal came after Japanese students, who were chosen as peace envoys, have spoken at the three previous conferences since 2014, calling for nuclear disarmament.


“There were other countries questioning the appropriateness of allowing Japanese high school peace envoys to make a speech as an exceptional case,” said a Japanese government representative at the conference.


The 22 high school students were selected from across Japan as peace ambassadors. In previous years, they played roles in gathering signatures and giving speeches at the main session at the Conference on Disarmament at the United Nations Office in Geneva as temporary representatives of the Japanese government.


This year, however, the students were only allowed to talk to and exchange ideas with diplomacy corps of other countries at a reception prepared by the Japanese government on the sidelines of the conference, which is being held from Aug. 21-25.


The Japanese government representative said, “Since the conference has a rule of adopting a unanimous vote, the decision was made to place importance on the concerns of the other countries.”


The official added, “the nuclear ban treaty (which the Japanese government has announced it will not join) bears no relation to the decision at all.”


At the Conference on Disarmament, diplomats and other representatives conduct disarmament negotiations among the 65 member countries.


On Aug. 22, outside the conference, the Japanese high students as scheduled presented signatures they collected from the public in seeking a nuclear-free world to the U.N. Office for Disarmament Affairs.



Japanese teens meet nuclear disarmament envoys



Japanese students have conveyed atomic bomb survivors' appeal for a nuclear-free world to envoys of a UN conference on disarmament.

The Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Geneva hosted on Monday exchanges between senior high school students and representatives from more than 30 countries involved in nuclear disarmament.

22 young people from across Japan, including students from the atomic bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, took part in the event.

Japan's ambassador in charge of disarmament, Nobushige Takamizawa, said he wanted both sides to exchange views freely.

Miharu Kobayashi, a third-generation hibakusha, or atomic bomb survivor, spoke about her great-grandmother who died from radiation exposure after the 1945 nuclear attack on Hiroshima.

Kobayashi said the atomic bombing left many deep scars both on people's bodies and in their hearts, and those scars have never disappeared.

She stressed that she will do her utmost to pass on the voices of hibakusha to people everywhere in order to create a peaceful world without nuclear weapons.

Kazuki Sato from Osaka said it's difficult to realize a nuclear-free future when there are countries relying on nuclear weapons.

But he said the world is gradually taking steps forward, as shown in the adoption at the UN of a treaty banning nuclear arms.

Japanese students have given speeches calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons to meetings of the UN Conference on Disarmament for the past 3 years.

But this year they were not allowed to do that.

Ambassador Takamizawa told NHK that some countries have expressed their opposition to the speeches.

He denied that Japan's absence from the nuclear ban treaty had anything to do with the decision.


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