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ICAN member Kawasaki heads to Oslo for Nobel Peace Prize ceremony

Akira Kawasaki speaks at a press conference in Tokyo on Dec. 6, 2017. (Mainichi)

Akira Kawasaki, International Steering Group member of Nobel Peace Prize-winning NGO International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), departed for Oslo on Dec. 7 to attend the prestigious award ceremony on Dec. 10.

The 49-year-old lent his efforts to the peace movement since his university days after a visit to Hiroshima, and encountered ICAN after working for various NGOs. Kawasaki has now spoken to representatives of different governments about nuclear policies. He hopes that by receiving the award, it will shine more light on other NGOs as well.

"I want to appeal to the greatest extend that winning this award is not the end, but only the beginning," Kawasaki expressed at a press conference held in Tokyo on Dec. 6 about the continuing fight to ban nuclear weapons.

Kawasaki met ICAN co-founder Tilman Ruff in 2008 at a nuclear weapons reduction conference. Ruff had just begun ICAN the year before, while Kawasaki was working with the NGO Peace Boat, where he was engaged in a project to tour around the world by ship with A-bomb survivors to tell their stories. Ruff was inspired by Kawasaki's work and invited him to join ICAN, and he began working with the organization in 2010.

While requests for comments from the Japanese government have increased, Kawasaki feels that compared to European and U.S. NGOs, the organizations in Japan are not given a voice, and their social status is not protected. For Kawasaki, the most meaningful part of receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for the organization is having the existence of the nuclear weapons ban treaty and ICAN more widely known.

"It's exactly because it's an NGO that we can work practically," he says. "We need to educate younger generations about the methodology of abolishing nuclear weapons and raise them as a society to tackle the issue."

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