Masao Ito

From “Never Forget” to “Never Again”

7. War must never be started

A monument stands in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which inscribes Pope John Paul II’s words:

Appeal for Peace at Hiroshima
War is the work of man.
War is destruction of human life.
War is death.
To remember the past is to commit oneself to the future.
To remember Hiroshima is to abhor nuclear war.
To remember Hiroshima is to commit oneself to peace. 

There has never been a time without war in the long history of humankind, so it is no exaggeration to say that the history of mankind is the history of war.  In order to win wars, it is necessary to possess weapons that are superior to those of the opponent.  The end result is nuclear weapons.  Nuclear weapons were developed and used because of war.  In order to eliminate nuclear weapons, we must strive to prevent wars from happening.

Hibakusha have spoken out about the horrors brought by nuclear weapons by sharing their experiences around the world.  The hibakusha’s longing has been the abolition of nuclear weapons.  Steven Leeper, former Director of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation (tenure: 2007-2013), was a proponent of the “2020 Vision Campaign” to abolish nuclear weapons by 2020.  At that time, none of the hibakusha believed that nuclear weapons would actually be eliminated by 2020.  However, in 2017, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Treaty of the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and by 2020 the number of countries that had ratified the treaty reached 50, which was the condition for its entry into force, and the treaty actually came into effect on January 17, 2021.  As of September 25, 2022, 91 countries have signed the treaty and 68 countries and regions have ratified it.  Although the abolition of nuclear weapons has not yet been achieved, the fact that treaty has entered into force is a great joy for us hibakusha.  This made me realize that even the smallest voice can achieve big goals by continuing to take steady action. 

For example, the Children’s Monument, which stands in the center of Peace Park, was built by the classmates of Sadako Sasaki, who was exposed to the atomic bomb at the age of 2 and died of leukemia at the age of 12.  To build the monument, they asked junior high school students all over Japan for donations.  The small voice of the children spread around the world and became a powerful force.

Japan has not been involved in any war for more than 77 years since the end of World War II. Each of our voices is very small, yet we must continue to speak out and maintain this peace.  The Pope said, “To remember the past is to commit oneself to the future.”   We must reject nuclear weapons and fulfill our responsibility to build a peaceful world.