High School Students Meet in Hiroshima

On May 19, G7 leaders will gather in Hiroshima, Japan, for a three-day summit. The G7 is composed of the world’s seven largest economic powers, including the United States. Ahead of that important gathering, high school students representing those powers met at a youth conference in Hiroshima. Their goal was to foster a deeper understanding of global issues through constructive discussions about peace, sustainability, and more.

Hiroshima is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, known as the Genbaku Dome, and the Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, an ancient religious site. The peace memorial recalls a devastating nuclear attack on Hiroshima in 1945, at the end of World War II. Controversial attacks by the U.S. on Hiroshoma, and also the city of Nagasaki, were meant to end the war. But the devastation caused to Japanese civilians caused anguish and horror around the world. 


Nanaka in Hiroshima in front of the Cenotaph, on which the names of the atomic bomb victims of 1945 are inscribed. 


A total of 24 high school students from G7 countries participated in the Junior Conference. They visited the peace memorial to lay flowers and pay respects to the tens of thousands of victims of the nuclear attack.

The students also listened to a talk by survivor Keiko Ogura. “I want American students to know that their country has nuclear weapons,” Ogura said. “Nuclear fear is different for everyone, but fear stays with people for a long time. It’s important to know about the awfulness and to transmit it for the future. Real peace starts from knowing.”

Aiden O'Reilly, 16, represented the U.S. at the event. He and Ogura spoke and shook hands after her talk. “Hearing her personal experiences was eye-opening, especially to see her story and what she had to go through,” Aiden said. “I will never forget it.”


The Hiroshima Peace Memorial, called the Genbaku Dome, is the only structure in the city that was left standing after the nuclear attack at the end of World War II. 


The youth participants were divided into three groups. Their discussions centered around peace, sustainability, and diversity. On the final day of the event, they pledged to share all that they had learned with the world. 

The peace group committed to conveying the lasting effects of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks. The sustainability group focused on the importance of developing environmentally-friendly businesses. The diversity and inclusion group committed to being open-minded, furthering the education of young people, and considering the use of social networks to make change.

“We’re very proud of the document,” Aiden said after the presentation. “If taken it into consideration, it can benefit everybody and create a whole new experience for all countries.”

The document was given to Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, on April 5. The students hope that he will share their findings with other world leaders. 


G7 world leaders will gather in Hiroshima in May. 

Photos courtesy of the author