Masao Ito

From “Never Forget” to “Never Again”

6. Around the World on the Peace Boat

On April 12, 2015, I boarded the Peace Boat as an A-bomb survivor and departed on a three-month round-the-world trip.  That was my first trip abroad.  Starting in Singapore and India, we sailed through the Suez Canal to Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, Denmark, Poland, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Hawaii.  We hibakusha shared our A-bomb experiences in turn at each port of call while the other passengers went on sightseeing tours.  We went to various locations.  The main destinations were the member cities of the Mayors for Peace. (As of December 1, 2022, there are 8,228 member cities in 166 countries.)  We were also invited to speak to City Councils and Congresses. so, wecould not go sightseeing even when we stopped at famous tourist destinations. 

There were many unexpected incidents during the trip.  We were supposed to stop in Egypt according to our schedule, but we were unable to do so due to political unrest.  When we spoke at the Greek parliament, the speeches by the leaders of each party were so long that it was almost time for the boat to leave, and we regretted that we could not attend the reception party that had been prepared for us.  In St. Petersburg, Russia, one of us told the audience about his father’s Siberian internment, and afterwards, a Russian approached him and apologized to him, shedding tears.

In Bergen, Norway, a Japanese teacher who teaches Japanese at various schools came to listen to us.  She had visited Hiroshima with her students every year before that, and after this encounter, we have continued our exchange every time she comes to Hiroshima.

I was amazed to see how beautifully every town in Europe has been reconstructed, even though they must have been bombed and destroyed in World War I and World War II.  Similarly, Hiroshima and Nagasaki have now been rebuilt into beautiful cities.  However, although buildings can be restored to their original state, the lives that were lost there will never return.  There are still many people suffering from radiation damage in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and second and third generation of the A-bomb survivors are worried about what will happen to them in the future.

I met Mr. Soh Horie for the first time, who was also aboard the boat as an A-bomb survivor, and we hit it off.  As we talked, we discovered that we were the same age, that our houses were in neighboring school districts, and that we had common friends.  He was outraged by the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents, and the year following the Peace Boat tour, he filed a lawsuit in the Hiroshima District Court as the leader of a group of plaintiffs, seeking an injunction against reopening of the No. 3 Reactor at the Ikata Nuclear Power Plant.  He invited me to join the group, and I am currently the deputy leader.  The slogan of our litigation group is, “Hiroshima, the A-bombed city, refuses to be exposed to radiation.  We cannot change the past, but we can change the future.”

Ikata Nuclear Power Plant Lawsuit Poster