Shunji Fueki recently graduated from Soka Senior High School in Tokyo, Japan after attending the Critical Issues Forum in both 2016 and 2017. His life was positively affected by the CIF experience.
In 2016 he attended the CIF conference in Monterey. The theme of the conference was “Global Nuclear Vulnerability: Lessons for a More Secure and Peaceful World.” Through the preparation for the conference, Shunji learned about the dangers posed by accidental nuclear explosions, and the many occasions that the world came close to having an accidental use of nuclear weapons. Shunji stated that after he had learned about nuclear mishaps, he recognized that it is not only the use of nuclear weapons that pose a constant threat to global security, but also the possession of them.
The conference itself was also a great opportunity for him to broaden his view. Shunji was amazed by the diverse presentations made by the students from Russia and the United States, and different cities in Japan, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Some students argued for a political approach to nuclear disarmament, while others proposed educational solutions, including learning the actual impacts of the use of nuclear weapons, and the threats posed by nuclear weapons, and challenges in nuclear disarmament. Some presentations highlighted the effectiveness of using the social media to spread the useful information and analysis. During presentations, items such as Whack a Mole were used to attract the audience, and textbooks and pamphlets were distributed by students to further present their arguments. It was exciting to see how diverse ideas, approaches, and creativity emerged when students from around the world gathered. At the same time, while the presentations varied, Shunji felt that the passion for a world free of nuclear weapons was the same amongst the students, regardless of nationalities and cultures. This lesson opened his mind internationally and led him to be a global citizen.
In addition, Shunji was amazed by the participants’ academic excellence, as seen by the logical thinking and public speaking skills, especially those of American students, whose presentations were logical and well-researched. Their presentations were done confidently and very effectively in a way that attracted the audience. Moreover, Shunji was impressed to see American students asking questions after each presentation. Their academic skills and motivation have inspired Shunji to develop his intellectual curiosity.
One of the highlights of the 2016 conference was his meeting with Dr. William Perry, the former Secretary of Defense of the United States. His dedication to youth education for a safer world really inspired Shunji.
As the date to the 2017 conference drew closer, Shunji couldn’t hold his enthusiasm back. He was excited to interact with the amazing participants again. This enthusiasm brought him to the conference in Nagasaki, and helped his classmates at the school in preparation for the conference presentation based on his experience.
During the conference, Dr. Lassina Zerbo, the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, took part in the public symposium and gave his keynote address. Shunji was moved by Dr. Zerbo’s passion and hope for future generations. Dr. Zerbo expressed the importance of youth in disarmament and nonproliferation efforts over and over again. He even stated that the next Secretary of the CTBTO will be from among the CIF participants. These kind words encouraged Shunji to be actively engaged with nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation issues. Taking this opportunity, Shunji became a member to raise awareness of the importance of the CTBT among young generations.
Shunji highlights friendship as one of the greatest takeaways of the CIF experience. He still communicates with some of the participants from both 2016 and 2017. One of them even visited his high school from Hawaii. Shunji appreciates that although the conference has ended, the participants have still kept in touch and can share their activities for nuclear weapons free world with each other.
The CIF experience definitely impacted Shunji’s life. Starting this August, he will be studying at Soka University of America in California to pursue a career on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. The founder of this university, Daisaku Ikeda, has dedicated his life to a world free of nuclear weapons. Shunji decided to follow the founder’s path and contribute to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation in the future. Whatever specific career he will belong to, Shunji wants to be a person who can encourage young generations to actively engage in critical issues, as the CIF did for him.