2015 Alumna Spotlight : Shizuka Kuramitsu


Shisuka ctbto

Shizuka Kuramitsu with MIIS Alumna Sarah Bidgood, Dr. Lassina Zerbo – the executive secretary of the CTBTO and other young participants

In March 2015, I joined the Critical Issues Forum in Hiroshima when I was an 11th grade student at the Hiroshima Jogakuin Senior High School. The theme of the conference was “The Humanitarian Approach to Nuclear Disarmament”. It did not take much time to realize how dangerous the world we are living in is after I started to prepare for this conference. Most participants noticed and concluded the importance of raising awareness through the CIF. The conference planted some seeds in me. Firstly, I was able to gain knowledge about nuclear issues from not only the viewpoint of Hiroshima. Secondly, I was able to see the dedication of those who are working on this issue directly. Finally, I was able to think whether I could devote myself to this issue seriously.

Thanks to the participation at CIF, I had a chance to go to the lecture meeting with Dr. William Perry, the former US secretary of defense in August in Hiroshima. I prepared some questions for him by putting practical use of the knowledge I had from the CIF. I still remember when I was sitting in the front row, listening to the four panelists. As Dr. Lassina Zerbo, the executive secretary of the CTBTO, made a speech, I was so moved that I cried. He told us that working for nuclear disarmament is a long, long marathon. Finding me crying, he seemed very surprised; he came up and asked the reason.  I was so moved by his dedication to disarmament that I cried again. I asked him what I could do. He just hugged me and gave me his business card. That night, I emailed him about why I cried, I wrote how touching his speech was, and I promised to keep working on disarmament. I think his message to us was touching because I understood how serious this issue is through taking part in the CIF

Just ten days before the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) symposium, I was kindly sent an invitation to attend in Vienna, Austria starting on January 25th. Honestly, I felt as if I found myself in front of the gate of the United Nations in Vienna, Austria.

At the symposium, I was the only high school student. Furthermore, there were many important people and experts in the field of disarmament, who know about this issue deeply and from many aspects. I know I was invited just as an observer but I actually believed my mission was to deliver the story and emotion of those who are from Hiroshima. However, when I spoke with people who are studying or know well about these issues, my viewpoint started to deepen. As I am still a mere high school student, I really did not know much about the CTBT, nor did I know the technical terms related to this issue and the CTBT. So, the atmosphere overwhelmed me. It also made me wonder whether I can mention about the A-bomb survivors of Hiroshima before gaining knowledge like them. I felt like the humanitarian approach to disarmament I had been studying from the CIF is too emotional to be discussed at an international conference because everybody has their own perspective on the humanitarian approach and many know the facts of Hiroshima. Finally, I was feeling embarrassed and disappointed that I have no knowledge and I could not say anything about Hiroshima. After the meeting with Dr. Zerbo and four brilliant graduate students, Ms. Diana Ballestas de Dietrich, the contact person with students, said that she does not expect me to be completely knowledgeable and follow the symposium perfectly. Her words made me rethink the reason I was invited. So, I was able to come back to my honest viewpoints from Hiroshima and the theme of the CIF I attended. I thought of A-bomb survivors, who turned the military city into the peaceful one, instead of seeking revenge. I remembered the words of the former mayor of Hiroshima, Tadatoshi Akiba, “You have to say what is to be done right as one person, do not discuss the field of economics, science and diplomacy.” I found that I should talk with my sincere heart, not about other matters that I did not know to touch someone’s heart. This was the reason I asked Ms. Diana Ballestas de Dietrich if I could give some comments at the end. I really was not satisfied with my speech, but I think I was able to thank all the participants for their hard work.

Honestly, I was not sure if I would dedicate my life to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation after the CIF. However, through the lecture meeting with Dr. Perry and being invited to the CTBT symposium, I came to think that I want to gain more knowledge, like people I met at the conference, and look for the best way I can to contribute to this issue.