The Center for Peace Education (CPE), in partnership with Peace Boat, organized a forum on “Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons and War” with Ms. Meri Joyce of Peace Boat, Ms. Yumi Iwasaki of the Maruki Gallery and Dr. Kathy Matsui of the Seisen University as guests on 22 August 2022.
Dr. Loreta Castro, CPE Executive Director, opened the session by giving a warm welcome to the participants, partners and guests. She highlighted the two purposes of the forum: first, to commemorate the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 77 years ago, and second, to raise awareness of the peace provision in the Japanese Constitution. She expressed her hope for the forum to justify and further convince the participants of the need to ban nuclear weapons and reject war as a way to resolve conflicts.
Commemorating the Hiroshima and Nagasaki tragedy, and introducing Peace Boat, International Coordinator, Ms. Meri Joyce, described the organization’s work and efforts to educate and raise support for the abolition of nuclear weapons. She revealed how the pandemic, and the online transition of their work, allowed for their advocacy’s wider reach, and easier participation of the Hibakusha who are elders now. She ended her message with a short video compilation from their “Every Second Counts for the Survivors Peace Boat Hibakusha Project,” featuring the survivors and their call to ban nuclear weapons.
Ms. Yumi Iwasaki, International Coordinator of the Maruki Gallery for the Hiroshima Panels in Saitama, Japan, followed by introducing a picture book she authored, entitled “The Day the World Decided to Say No to Nuclear Weapons.” She shared her intentions of wanting to raise children’s understanding on the importance of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), and of recognizing all the survivors of nuclear weapons, including those who are not Japanese, and those affected by nuclear production and testing. She presented the book through a video narration by Ms. Joyce.
Following the commemoration, Dr. Kathy Matsui, a Seisen University professor at the Department of Global Citizenship Studies in Tokyo, Japan, gave a presentation about the adoption of Article 9 in the Japanese Constitution and its importance in promoting peace and rejecting violence. She discussed the peace provision, which states the renouncement of war along with Japan's land, sea and air forces and other war potential, and the reason for its adoption after World War II. It ascended from the regret of the Japanese people in the destruction the war had caused and therefore pledged to live in peace for themselves and the world. However, critics would argue that the Article was forced on the Japanese people by the Americans. Currently, there are efforts by the Liberal Democratic Party to amend Article 9 to overturn this denunciation of war. Dr. Matsui emphasized the importance of keeping the article, describing its impact on regional security, and the essential role of peace education in protecting it.
In the open forum, some of the questions raised included how Filipino advocates can promote the continued abolition of nuclear weapons despite being a developing country, navigating opposition from world superpowers, and efforts to safeguard these stories from historical revisionism in connection to the Philippines own struggle of protecting facts and the truth. Ms. Joyce reiterated that the TPNW is a result of the relentless efforts of the many developing countries coming together and demonstrating the voice of a global majority. She expounded on this further by sharing how the Mine Ban Treaty, which prohibits landmines, impacted the behavior of non-signatory superpowers, showing the strength of the majority to influence international law and norms and the value of continuing to advocate for our government leaders to support the TPNW. On combatting historical revisionism, Ms. Joyce shared the use of picture books like the children’s book of Ms. Iwasaki, recordings, and virtual tours, among others, can be maximized to remember and safeguard the past. She emphasized remembering the impact, not only to the first generation of nuclear survivors, but also the effects to the latter and current generations, and linking it to experiences of other nations, ensures its relevance today. Dr. Matsui also underscored the value of stories in connecting people and pushing us to action.
For the closing message, Dr. Gail Galang, CPE Associate Director and Family Studies Program Chair, illustrated the catastrophic impact of a nuclear bombing and reiterated the importance of abolishing nuclear weapons and war. She also thanked the guests for their generous sharing and called us all to continue raising our voices for a world free of nuclear weapons and war.
The forum was moderated by Mr. Aron Jayson Garchitorena, CPE Faculty Associate, in cooperation with the Social Sciences and International Studies Departments and Pax Christi students of the Higher Education and High School Units. It was attended by 154 participants from the Miriam College community, partner organizations and other guests.