NAHA -- Groups of high school students across Japan submitted a statement to the Russian Embassy in Tokyo on March 3 protesting Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The joint statement was signed by groups of students from eight regions across Japan including Tokyo, Hiroshima and Okinawa, who are learning about peace and social issues. The statement read, "As people engaging in efforts with aspirations to create a peaceful world, we cannot tolerate Russia's invasion. The act of threatening others with nuclear weapons goes against the global movement to prevent nuclear war and avoid an arms race."
The student groups' usual activities include listening to talks by "hibakusha," or A-bomb survivors, and other individuals who experienced the war, and holding educational sessions on social issues. They also participate in a peace assembly of nationwide high school students held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki every year in August. In addition, they take part in signature-collecting campaigns demanding that the Japanese government sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
In their statement delivered to the Russian Embassy, the groups said they learned that damage caused by nuclear weapons will affect even later generations, and raised this point as one of the findings attained from their activities. They then stated that "the use of nuclear weapons must be avoided at all costs," and protested against Russia's actions while also calling on countries to strive toward a peaceful resolution.
The students' move came after the Okinawa High School Students Peace Seminar, a group of high schoolers in Okinawa, called on their counterparts in other areas to join them in submitting the statement to the Embassy of Russia in Japan. Hiro Uehara, a 16-year-old first-year high school student, commented that her heart ached for the children of Ukraine, who could be seen in a frightened state amid bombings in videos, and said, "Young kids and children my age are crying because a war has started." Regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin's stance hinting at the use of nuclear weapons, she commented, "I can't understand how he can suggest their use when they caused such massive damage in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It seems that he has not learned history."
Chihiro Tahara, 18, a third-year high school student and member of the Tokyo High School Students Peace Seminar, who placed the statement inside the embassy's mailbox, called for an end to the invasion, saying, "I feel that those who are the greatest victims of war are civilians. There is no one who wins in a war."
(Japanese original by Takayasu Endo, Naha Bureau)