"Thinking about Peace"
The Birth of the Green Legacy Hiroshima Initiative
by Tomoko Watanabe
   Executive Director of ANT-Hiroshima

Are you familiar with the gorgeous animated film "THE MAN WHO PLANTED TREES" by Frederic Back, which won the Grand Prix at the 2nd Hiroshima Animation Festival (1987)? It is a beautiful, poetic and moving animated film about a man who spends his life quietly planting trees, transforming wild land into a green forest.
  The act of planting trees is simple yet beautiful and joyful. And it is something that anyone can do. In the process of protectively raising the trees that one has planted, we are encouraged and strengthened by the trees, and learn so much about life -life and death, the importance of coexisting with nature, diversity and generosity. I believe that planting trees is equivalent to building peace.
  On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was reduced to rubble by one atomic bomb, and at the time it was said that vegetation would not grow there for 75 years. However, in that same year canna and oleander flowers appeared, and charred trees once again produced buds, a sight that encouraged and gave hope to live to many Hiroshima citizens. Currently, there are approximately 170 hibaku (atomic bomb survivor) trees in 55 locations within a 2km radius of the hypocenter in Hiroshima City.
The hibaku camphor tree near the moat at Hiroshima Castle. Approximately 1.1km from the hypocenter.
Ms. Nassrine Azimi, Senior Advisor for UNITAR Headquarters, says the following about the hibaku trees. "For many years, as I walked the streets of Hiroshima, I came to know the power of recovery, the generosity, beauty, and especially the important significance of the special residents of Hiroshima -the trees that survived the atomic bombing and the descendants of those trees. The hibaku trees, which are survivors of the nuclear tragedy, communicate an important message not only to Hiroshima residents and visitors to Hiroshima, but to all humankind."
  Ms. Azimi and I worked as joint founders and coordinators to implement the Green Legacy Hiroshima Initiative, with support from UNITAR and the NPO ANT-Hiroshima, in the year from July 2011 to June 2012. The aim of the initiative was to sow seeds and shoots from Hiroshima's a-bomb survivor (hibaku) trees throughout the world, and by doing so protect these trees and broadly communicate their existence and meaning.
  We set a pilot period of one year for this activity, and succeeded in sending the seeds of Hiroshima's hibaku trees to almost all continents throughout the world. This was done thanks to the support of many people and organizations: in particular, the currently irreplaceable working group members of Green Legacy Hiroshima -Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Botanical Garden, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima Prefecture- as well as horticulturalists and other volunteers.
Tree-planting ceremony on March 30 this year. 2nd generation hibaku saplings
(persimmon trees) were planted in the nature strip on Peace Boulevard.
I am certain that the success of Green Legacy Hiroshima Initiative is due to the efforts and progress made by many, including the tree surgeon Mr. Chikara Horiguchi, all those who have protected and nurtured the hibaku trees for such a long time, and the many citizens of Hiroshima who, like the a-bomb survivor Ms. Suzuko Numata who passed away last year, loved the hibaku phoenix trees and sent out a message of hope to people all over the world. It is not possible to thank each person individually, but I would like to express my sincere respect for and gratitude to all for their efforts and support.
  On July 1, 2012, we established the voluntary organization Green Legacy Hiroshima, to fulfill this ideal and activity that is spreading globally in a more coherent and organized manner.
  I pray that many partners throughout the world will participate in this initiative, and become ambassadors to proactively spread Hiroshima's message of peace and the green legacy in their respective countries.
  Let's plant trees together!
(August, 2012)

【Profile】 Tomoko Watanabe
Involved in international cooperation and peace education activities. Based in the peace city, Hiroshima. Also conducts her own peace-building activities, including international understanding and peace education for Hiroshima citizens, children, overseas trainees visiting Hiroshima and others.
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