2013 CIF Alumni Spotlight: Kokoro Aso

Kokoro Aso, second from the left

Four Years after CIF Kokoro continues to be active in Disarmament Efforts

It has been 4 years since I participated in the Critical Issues Forum. I still have a strong passion to create a peaceful world without any nuclear weapons. Since I am a past CIF participant, I am convinced of the importance of education. I especially think how much I’ve learned about what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a part of peace studies in Nagasaki. I was raised in Nagasaki where the atomic bomb was dropped following Hiroshima in 1945. I also was a student of Kwassui high school where many teachers and students died because of the atomic bomb. Kwassui has a peace studies club, and many students are working on various kinds of peace activities including not only the CIF conference, but also a campaign to gain 10000’s high school students signatures, Hiroshima Nagasaki Peace Messenger, and so on.

I’m a student at Sophia University now. My major is Education, and I especially am interested in peace education. Through my experiences and learning in the university, I am now focusing on how we can improve the quality of education. From last September (2016) to this July, I was in the United States on a study abroad program. During the time I was in America, I tried to communicate with people about what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In fact, I was surprised that many people I met know about Hiroshima and Nagasaki as cities where A-bomb was dropped. However, most of them don’t know the effects of the radiation that many atomic bomb survivors are still suffering.

Even though many powerful countries in the world including Japan rely on nuclear power, only a few people feel a sense of danger. I would like to be the one who can convey how dangerous and cruel nuclear weapons and radiation can be. In addition, I have a responsibility to convey to people what the atomic bomb survivors have experienced as a person who has listened to the real story from the atomic bomb survivors. The important thing is knowing the real information, and now is the very last chance to listen and learn from the atomic bomb survivors.

Kokoro Shares her Experience after CIF

Kokoro Aso attended Kwassui High School in Nagasaki, which is only 500 meters from the epicenter of the 1945 atomic bombing. As such, the teachers and students make special efforts to do peace activities. Kokoro feels that this foundation provided her with a solid grasp of how important disarmament education and research is, in that it can change the entire world.

At Kwassui, she took part in the peace studies club, as well as the 10,000 high school students signatures campaign. In her Junior year, she became the 16th peace messenger and was able to visit the United Nations office in Geneva. While there, Kokoro spoke her intent to create a world free of nuclear weapons, handing in all the signatures she had collected. After she finished her tasks in Geneva, she joined disarmament lecture meetings and symposiums around Japan.

One of the most striking things Kokoro found about working in peace education was that many of the people she encountered didn’t know about what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Consequently, she decided to learn as much as she could about the subject so that she could better communicate the importance of peace to the next generation, and to the world.

Of course, Kokoro cites Critical Issues Forum (CIF) as one of her most precious experiences. Taking part in the conference allowed her to interact with students from various countries, with whom she discussed topics such as how to create a better world. Students encouraged each other to study and learn more about the subject, and although there were cultural barriers, they found they were able to confide in each other. Even the teachers Kokoro met from different countries listened to her opinions and helped challenge her thinking.

Kokoro continues to engage in peace activities to this day, and plans to continue her studies in the United States. She wants to spread the message about how horrible war, terrorism, and other forms of conflict, including the potential use of nuclear weapons, are. Her generation may be the last that can hear about the real experiences of atomic bomb survivors, directly from the source. Kokoro feels that as a result, it is the responsibility of her and her peers to pass on stories about what happened under the mushroom cloud and how cruel nuclear weapons are.

Currently, Kokoro majors in Education at her university. Through her peace activities, including CIF, she met many great educators, who told her to continue striving for a better future. She would like to thank all the people she met through CIF, because she feels they represent the vision of change she now holds. Now, thanks to them, she strongly believes that education and outreach has the power to change the world.

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