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Ukrainians protest in front of A-bomb Dome in rainy Hiroshima: 'The sky is crying, too'

HIROSHIMA -- About 20 local Ukrainians staged a protest in front of Hiroshima's Atomic Bomb Dome in the rain on March 1 amid growing concerns about Russia's use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

    Ukrainians living in Hiroshima gather in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome and shout, "Stop the war!" in Hiroshima's Naka Ward, on March 1, 2022. (Mainichi/Misa Koyama)

    Participants holding the Ukrainian blue and yellow flag displayed message cards that read "Pray for Ukraine," and chanted: "No war! Stop nuclear weapons!"

    "The sky is crying, too. If we don't speak up now, things will get worse, and young people are already dying," said a 47-year-old music teacher from Ternopil in western Ukraine, as she wiped tears from her eyes.

    Her cousin, a soldier living in Kharkiv, the second largest city where heavy fighting continues, is unable to leave her home. She said she has not been able to contact her cousin for almost a whole day, but that in their most recent phone call, she heard gunshots in the background. She said, "Every single life is really important. Soldiers are human beings, too. Can we allow Putin's recklessness? Ukraine is fighting for the whole world."

    A 36-year-old woman who participated in the demonstration with her 6-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter shed tears as she sang the Ukrainian national anthem with others who had gathered.

    The woman's older sister and parents live in Zhytomyr in western Ukraine, and short e-mail exchanges confirm that they are alive. The sound of many engines, presumably those of fighter jets, and sirens have been heard in the city, and her sister and others are said to be fleeing to their basements each time.

    A woman from Ukraine bursts into tears as she says, "I want peace to come as soon as possible," in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima's Naka Ward on March 1, 2022. She says her older sister and parents live in Ukraine. (Mainichi/Misa Koyama)

    "Maybe my sister can't control her feelings, but she cut her own hair. I want peace. I don't care which country is right anymore. Peace is good, that's all," she said.

    People from Belarus -- a country that supports Russia -- were also present, including a 40-year-old woman who came with her 7-year-old son. "None of the Belarusians want war with Ukraine. I have many relatives and friends there," she said, worried about the situation in her home country.

    In Belarus, a constitutional amendment was approved to delete a clause that declared the country's territory "nuclear-free" and "neutral," and it has been pointed out that there are fears that Russian nuclear weapons may be deployed in the country.

    "I know the horror of nuclear weapons, having experienced the Chernobyl nuclear accident. I can only raise my voice from a safe place, but doing so in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima will send a strong message," she said, chanting in unison with her son, "No to war."

    (Japanese original by Misa Koyama, Hiroshima Bureau)

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