A civic reception was held at Manchester town hall today for two women directly affected by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.
Mrs Midori Yamada from Hiroshima and Mrs Reiko Yamada from Nagasaki shared their experiences of life in Japan following the atomic attacks of 1945, with Deputy Lord Mayor of Manchester, Cllr Eddy Newman and pupils from Manly Park Primary School, Whalley Range.
The reception also provided an update on the progress of a Manchester City Council and Mayors for Peace initiative, ‘Project G’ that saw Gingko seeds from trees that survived the bombing of Hiroshima presented to Manchester to be grown into trees.
Reiko and Midori are both Japanese ‘Hibakusha’ which translates directly as ‘bomb affected people’ but is generally intended to mean survivor.
The ladies – now both in their 80’s – are currently touring the UK to share their stories and messages of hope and peace.
Cllr Sue Murphy, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “It’s important we hear testimony from survivors of the 1945 atomic attacks. History can teach us vital lessons and stories like these should be never be forgotten to ensure the tragic events of the past are never repeated.”
As part of the reception the Japanese delegation and the primary school pupils were given an update on the progress of Project G and the 10 Ginko seeds gifted to the city from Hiroshima, currently growing in Dunham Massey National Trust estate.
Reiko and Midori will visit Dunham Massey tomorrow as guests of the National Trust to inspect the Gingko tree seedlings and will be given a tour of the greenhouses and the main house.
The trees – when suitably established – will be planted in six Manchester primary schools and in a public space in the city centre.
Emily Chandler, head gardener at Dunham Massey, said: “We’re delighted to be able to help with the Ginko project. It’s amazing that the original tree survived Hiroshima, and that the seeds we’re growing here will carry a message of peace and hope for future generations”.
Manchester is a member of the Mayors for Peace programme, a global initiative founded in 1982 by the then Mayor of Hiroshima Takeshi Araki with the aim to provide a way for cities around the world to work towards the total abolition of nuclear weapons.
Deputy Lord Mayor of Manchester and Manchester City Council’s Mayors for Peace representative, Cllr Eddy Newman, said: “While difficult to imagine the horrors faced by these remarkable women it’s important that future generations learn about their experiences. The inspiring stories of Reiko and Midori and the symbolic growth of the Ginko seeds show how messages of hope and peace can rise from the ashes of tragedy.”
Reiko and Midori are in the UK on a tour organised by the Japanese atomic bomb survivors group, Gensuyiko in co-operation with Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) and Mayors for Peace.
Further information about Mayors for Peace can be found online at: www.mayorsforpeace.org