Canadian Bureau for International Education
Canada-Japan Personnel Exchange Program
WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION:
Working Toward Their Abolition
A/ NARRATIVE REPORT
In early February 4 Canadian medical students spent about a week inHiroshima and NagasakiJapan. The students came from 3 different medical schools literally across Canada. They were
Sean Barry, 1st year DalhousieUniversity
Yasmine Hussain, 1st year, McMasterUniversity
April Kam, 3rd (final) year, McMasterUniversity
Erin Adams, 1st year University of British Columbia
The students, selected by the local PGS students group at each of the universities, accepted the responsibility of representing their group on this trip and agreed to report back and disseminate their learning..
The students travelled first to Hiroshima and participated in a forum organized by JPPNW the Japanese affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. Each student gave a presentation on activities at their university related to learning about weapons of mass destruction. An overview of the Forum is provided by the JPPNW staff person who organized the Forum. (Appendix A). The students spent the remaining time in Hiroshima and Nagasaki meeting with JPPNW physicians and medical students, visiting the peace museums and absorbing what the impact of the dropping of 2 atomic bombs has meant to the people of Japan. Regrettably an opportunity for the students’ to meet with hibakusha, survivors of the bombings, could not be arranged at that time.
Several examples of the media coverage received by both the Forum in Japan and the students’ experience are included. For details on the coverage in Japan see JPPNW’s report in Appendix A and the attached Japanese newspaper articles.
In Canada Sean Barry of Halifax was interviewed by local CBC radio and his interview was also heard in Vancouver and presumably points in between. A Halifax newspaper article making reference to his trip is enclosed. One of the students was interviewed about her experience by the Canadian Medical Association Journal.A picture and brief article about their trip will appear in the April 15 issue of the Medical Post (see enclosed). April Kam’s report (Appendix B) will appear in PGS’s magazine Turning Point
All four students have spoken at their own university on at least one occasion and written about their experience. April Kam’s report was posted on various national and international listservs related to abolition of nuclear weapons andpeacebuilding. It is also on the PGS website. If there had been a longer timeframe for the project we would be able to report on additional activities. All of the students have declared this experience, in one way or another, as ‘life changing’ I am confident that the students will continue to incorporate this experience into their medical training and their understanding of the role that physicians can play internationally in achieving ‘peace through health’.
We can say the goal of strengthening the linkages between PGS and JPPNW was met because of the very positive report from JPPNW about the students’ participation and the enthusiasm of the Canadian students about meeting their Japanese counterparts. This personal relationship will also serve to strengthen the international federation IPPNW. The specific objectives of expanding the students’ knowledge, their understanding of peace a determinant of health and sensitizing other medical students to these issues were met.
E/ FINANCESBUDGET / ACTUAL
international / $4,000
ground / $1,335
domestic / 1500
travel subtotal* / $7,193
FOOD + ACCOMODATION / $3,740
Food (24 days x $158/d) / $3,792
accomodation / $279
FOLLOWUP / $500
(postage, photos) $200 / $33
TOTAL / $11,275 / $11,297
* The costs for air travel in Canada and internationally and ground travel in Japan are included together.
Report Of The Forum
By Sachiyo Oki, Jppnw
Japanese Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War sponsored on February 11 in Hiroshima a forum, entitled "The Abolition of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons". It was co-sponsored by HiroshimaCity andHiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, and supported by Hiroshima PrefecturalMedical Association and Hiroshima City Medical Association.
In the first session, special lectures were given by Dr Ronald McCoy, President of IPPNW, Dr Hiromichi Umebayashi, President of Peace Depot, a leading Japanese NGOin the field of nuclear weapon issues, and Prof. Kumao Kaneko, special adviser to JPPNW, formerly career diplomat. Dr McCoy talked on “IPPNW’s Mission: Nuclear Disarmament in the 21st Century”, Dr Umebayashi, “The Key to Nuclear Non-proliferation is Disarmament”, Prof. Kaneko, “North Korean Nuclear Issues and the Japanese Response: For Permanent Peace in Northeast Asia”.
In the second session, Symposium on IPPNW Regional Efforts Toward Peaceful Coexistence took place. Four Canadian medical students, April Kam, Yasmine Hussein, Erin Adams and Sean Barry, sent by Physicians for Global Survival, the Canadian IPPNW affiliate, gave a speech on “Canadian Students’ Activities Toward Nuclear Disarmament” using slides and videos.
They had a chance to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Canada-Japan NGO Personnel Exchange program supported by both Canadian and Japanese governments.
Dr Kenjiro Yokoro, IPPNW Board Member, Secretary General of JPPNW, talked on “Issues in the KoreanPeninsula”, Dr Jitsuro Yanagida, IPPNW International Deputy Councilor, “Cancer Development as a Sequela of Poison Gas Exposure”. Ms Tomoko Inoue, Representative of JPPNW students, “IPPNW MedEx Program”.
About 150 people joined the gathering as well as local TV stations staff and newspaper reporters. The forum was broadcasted on evening local news programs on the same day, and a few newspaper articles appeared next day. Among press coverage, the Chugoku Shimbun, of which circulation is about 745,000 and based in Hiroshima, carried an attractive article on the front page with headlines,"Nuclear disarmament by civil society. Discussing the abolition in the midst of increasing tension". Moreover, on a separate page, a briefsummary of special lectures was reported together with a photo of each speaker and an overview photo of the forum.
Further information on the report by The Chugoku Shimbun is available.
This report by April Kam, student representative to the PGS Board, was published in our spring issue of Turning Pointand on various national and international listervs.
Flower of Summer
by Tamika Hara
This is a human being?
Look how the Atom bomb changed it.
Flesh swells fearfully
All men and women take one shape.
The voice that trickles from swollen lips
On the festering, charred-black face
Whispers the thin words,
Please help me.
This is a human being.
This is the face of a human being.
Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki: To witness and testify.
In February of 2003, I participated in the Forum Against Weapons of Mass
Destruction hosted by Japanese Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear
War. Four Canadian medical students from UBC, Dalhousie and McMaster
presented on the Canadian students activities with Physicians for Global
Survival. Our trip was funded by a grant PGS received from the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE). Meeting the Japanese medical students and physicians, and
participating in the Forum was a wonderful opportunity. In particular, as
I prepare to say the Hippocratic Oath in May, and before I embark on my
pediatrics residency training; my experience in the cities of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki, where the first two atom bombs were dropped on human beings,
was very sobering.
Reading the inscriptions on the dozens of charred school uniforms, which
are all that is left of thousands of children from Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
was quite moving. Imagine being a child riding your tricycle. Suddenly
you are burning, your skin is melting, and your mother is dead. Your
father is alive and must bury you, or what is left of you. He decides to
bury you with your charred tricycle, because he cannot help but think that
you are too young to die without a toy. There was another story about a
young schoolboy who was so dehydrated that he was sucking on his wounds.
After he died, his mother kept his nails and skin that had fallen off to
show his father who had not returned yet. There was the story of a young
girl pinned under a large beam that three wounded men could not remove,
and as her older sister watched on, their mother, who was also injured
from the explosion came and lifted the beam herself. She managed to free
her child, but her skin tore under the weight of the beam and she died
soon after. These are the stories we saw and heard. I dont know if I
can ever fully convey the pain and suffering of the people of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki. Beyond learning about medical effects of the bomb, of the
thousands who developed leukemias and other cancers related to radiation,
those stories affected me the most. The impact of the bombs continues to
this day. In fact, the cancer rates in both cities are still
disproportionate to that of other places.
It was horrific to learn that the bombings were not necessary, and that it
was essentially an experiment on the part of the 'allies' to test out
their new weapons. Why use two different types of bombs? Why not warn
the Japanese government about the atomic bomb, and give them a chance to
surrender? Why haven't we learned from history?
The cruelty - the horror of the bombing and the pain of survival for the
people in Japan must be shown over and over, because we must never forget.
The first hand experience allowed me to recognize the brutal power of
nuclear weapons. It is not some abstract concept in our history or
science books. The fact that there are still nuclear weapons testing, and
that so many countries have nuclear capacity (USA, UK, Russia, India,
Pakistan, etc) means that the reality of the suffering from the bombings
of Hiroshima & Nagasaki still elude the majority of governments. We
cannot sit by and do nothing, especially as physicians. The argument that
nuclear weapons are needed for defense is pathetic - you cannot
rationalize inhumane slaughter of fellow human beings - and that is what
these weapons are capable of. This is the ultimate threat to health.
Being a medical student, it was most poignant for me when I read one
particular Japanese physicians thoughts, How easy I would have felt were
I not a doctor. But I am a doctor. The hospitals have been gutted,
medicines and equipments destroyed, but as long as there are patients, I
am a doctor." Now, as students, health care workers, teachers, lawyers,
and citizens of the world, during this current period, where a war seems
inevitable, we are faced with a moral obligation to stand up and let our
voices be heard alongside the people who suffered and died in Hiroshima
and Nagasaki; Palestine and Iraq; Bosnia and Sierra Leone. As one
inscription at a memorial read:
"War is the work of man
War is the 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"
National Student Rep, PGS
North American Regional Rep, IPPNW
MD 2003, McMaster University
Physicians for Global Survival (Canada)
Report on Canada-Japan NGO Personnel Program