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Southwest Japan high schoolers recite original poem about peace on anniv. of nuke treaty

Airi Katayama, second from right, reads "Poem of peace" in Kumamoto on Jan. 22, 2022. (Mainichi/Takehiro Higuchi)

KUMAMOTO -- High school students in Kumamoto Prefecture who collect signatures for a petition seeking the abolition of nuclear weapons recited a poem in this city on Jan. 22 about peace that one of them wrote, one year from the day that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) -- to which Japan is not a party -- went into effect.

    The high schoolers argued that "atomic bombs were made by people, and were dropped on people. That's precisely why they can be eliminated through people's wills."

    The author of the poem, "Heiwa no shi" -- literally "poem of peace" -- is Airi Katayama, a third-year student at Kumamoto Shin-Ai Girls' Senior High School. She, along with An Fukuhara, a second year student at Kyushu Gakuin Lutheran High School, and others, have called on people to sign their petition on the streets of the city of Kumamoto, and listened to the experiences of Nagasaki A-bomb survivors. Katayama wrote the poem with the advice of fellow campaigners with the hope of passing down the importance of peace.

    "People are forgetful and weak, which is why we repeat mistakes. But this is one thing we must not forget," she said. "And that will is unmistakably born inside every one of us."

    (Japanese original by Takehiro Higuchi, Kumamoto Bureau)

    ***

    "Poem of Peace"

    Peace

    A serene state in which there is no fighting or strife

    A tranquil condition in which there are no worries or conflict

    I now live in peace

    My heart dances when I see the beauty of a rainbow across the big sky

    My heart relaxes when a drop of the vast ocean wets my foot

    My heart melts when I smell the scent of a flower out of nowhere, and illuminated by the moon, I feel the sparse shadows of the trees

    It is a peaceful day that I can surrender myself to such nature

    The moment that I hear a voice guiding me

    I want you to look back on whether you lived that day to its fullest

    I want you to remember not to take this time for granted

    I want you not to forget about them, about the truth

    Seventy-six years ago

    All the nature that I loved changed into something else

    The big sky and the stars that excited me disappeared into fighter jets and bombs

    The vast ocean that moistened my feet was dyed with human blood

    The landscape that once soothed my sense of smell and vision became cloudy with the stench of death and changed into a sight of corpses heaped on top of each other

    A blast, a heat ray, and the fires that those caused

    In one moment, took out

    The lights of the precious lives of many

    They were all living quiet and peaceful lives, no differently from me

    They were living every day single-heartedly and earnestly

    They had great expectations for their futures

    They treasured their families and friends, cherished nature, and were weaving the threads of their lives

    But in the blink of an eye, all that was taken away, destroyed

    Just because some are born in a different time, in a different country

    Just because of that small difference, they are embroiled in war

    They are forced to confront the fear that they may die at any moment, and the pain of losing family

    For us, peace is

    Vague and difficult to visualize

    That's why it's hard to think about peace

    But just like it's easy to be grateful for our health

    When we catch a cold or suffer an injury

    Knowing war can help us see peace

    "What is war?" "Who and how are weapons bought and sold?"

    "Why does war happen?"

    We can use war to talk about a lot of things

    If we think not only about what lies just before us, but about today's children, and the children of those children

    We start to think not only in terms of country, but in terms of the world

    The word peace often comes with words like

    "Wish" and "pray"

    But I want you to know

    Peace is not something you simply wish for, but create

    People are forgetful and weak

    Which is why we repeat mistakes

    But

    This is one thing we must not forget

    This is one thing we must not repeat

    No matter what happens

    You must not let this happen not only to yourself

    But to anyone else in this world

    Atomic bombs were made by people

    And were dropped on people

    That's precisely why they can be eliminated through people's wills

    And that will is unmistakably born

    Inside every one of us

    I vow

    That to stop any more deaths from war or nuclear weapons

    And for the sake of children and their children

    And people whose physical and mental pain have not been healed

    That we will never tolerate war or nuclear weapons

    That we will pray together for peace regardless of race

    That we will act upon hearing the voices of A-bomb survivors

    That we will through our activities, pass down the stories to future generations

    That we will not capitulate to obstacles that may stand in the way of nuclear abolition

    That we will give our all toward realizing a peaceful world

    Our efforts may be humble but are not powerless

    These words are what motivate us

    And allow us to continue to press ahead, one step at a time from Kumamoto

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