Workshops and Cross-Cultural Dialog in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, with a Special Emphasis on Building Bridges with our Friends in the Survivor Community in Nagasaki


Click through older posts to see pictures
of our work in various cities, including
Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Our Hearts Are with the People of Japan

Our students and I are  OK.
 But reportedly in Miyagi,  Hukushima, and Iwate
prefecutre etc

Really thank you for an email.

I shed tears to see a newspaper today

 10,000 dead people appear, and the disappearance
surpasses 100,000 people, too. And the refugee surpasses
440,000 people; We are shocked by these tragic events .

I want to do something for the people suffering from that
earthquake with high school students
Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said Japan is experiencing its greatest hardships since World War II as it tackles the aftermath of an earthquake, tsunami and a growing nuclear crisis.

Chris Hogg reports on the destruction wrought by the tsunami

Japan crisis 'worst since WWII'

He said the situation at the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant remained grave, a day after an explosion at a reactor.

Japanese broadcaster NHK says the total number of confirmed deaths caused by the disaster now stands at 1,351.

But police warn that the death toll in Miyagi region alone could top 10,000.
Millions of survivors remain without electricity and authorities are stepping up relief efforts as the scale of the tragedy becomes clearer.

About 310,000 people have been evacuated to emergency shelters, NHK says.
'Most severe crisis' The cooling systems of two reactors at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant failed after the 8.9-magnitude quake struck off the north-east coast.

On Saturday, a huge explosion blew apart the building housing reactor 1, where technicians had been venting steam to cool the reactor. Sea water is being injected into the other reactor in an attempt to cool it.

The Japanese authorities have admitted that radiation levels near the damaged plant at one point exceeded legal safety limits. Tens of thousands of people are being evacuated from within a 20km (12.4-mile) radius.

At least 19 people are being treated for the effects of exposure to radiation. Workers in protective clothing have been checking residents as they leave the evacuation zone.

Meanwhile, Japan's nuclear energy agency has declared a state of emergency at a second nuclear facility, at Onagawa, after excessive radiation levels were recorded there.

It said cooling systems at all three reactors at the Onagawa complex, which were automatically shut down after the earthquake and tsunami, were functioning properly and the rise in local radiation levels might have been caused by the Fukushima leak.

"The current situation of the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear plants is in a way the most severe crisis in the past 65 years since World War II," Mr Kan said.

We are about 10km from Minamisanriku, where it's believed that as many as 10,000 people are unaccounted for.

I'm in a building that's being used as an evacuation centre - it's a primary school and there are about 250 people now sleeping on the floor of the sports hall. There isn't any mains power, there is a generator that has been set up for a couple of lights and blow heaters - but it is still bitterly cold.
The authorities have got diggers in place to try and clear the road a little further north from here. They need to get through to those towns and communities to see what they can do to help anybody who might still be alive there.

It does not mean that because 10,000 are unaccounted for they are necessarily all feared dead.
There will be people who managed to evacuate. But there is no power, no telephone network in this area - all of that has been knocked out.

If people have escaped to an evacuation centre they can report in with the authorities and that information is gradually fed back and collated. If they've gone to stay with friends and relatives who don't have power or telephones it's going to be difficult getting that information to the central authorities to account for who is where.

One woman who was in her car when she felt the quake told us that as soon as "the earth stopped shaking", she jumped out of the car, went into her home, grabbed her family, got back in her car and got out of town. But she said there would perhaps be many people who didn't move fast enough.
"Whether we Japanese can overcome this crisis depends on each of us.
"I strongly believe that we can get over this great earthquake and tsunami by joining together."
Mr Kan said the shutting down of the Fukushima plant and other power stations meant that electricity supplies were limited.

He said that from Monday there would be a programme of rolling power cuts that would also affect water and gas supplies and some medical facilities.

The number of troops helping with rescue work in the affected north-east coastal region is being doubled to 100,000, and they will be joined by 250,000 police officers and other relief workers.
International rescue teams are flying into Japan following an appeal by the government.

Rescue workers have found scenes of total devastation in isolated coastal towns north east of the main port city of Sendai, which was itself partially destroyed by the waves.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Start Treat Ratified By a 2/3 Majority of the U.S. Senate!

Congratulations to all of the students and volunteers who believed in the possibility of peace, but also to an American political process that sometimes actually works. To all you naysayers: Sometimes idealism and working for justice is not hopeless. It's only a drop in the bucket, but the world is a little bit safer. Thank you, especially, Pauline and Nick. The world just might be OK because of young people like you.

With great admiration,
Ms. Allen

See the opinion article in the The New York Times about the next steps for nuclear weapons treaties -- tactical weapons negotiations and ratification of the test ban treaty: 

New York Times Opinion Page January 1, 2011

Our beliefs:

• The New START Treaty between the United States and Russia will significantly limit strategic nuclear weapons within seven years.

• Much more effective in stopping nuclear proliferation than just saying “no nukes.”


The Most Effective Political Action: Treaties Between Countries to Reduce Weapons

•President Obama and President Medvevev Sign (100% Support)
•Secretary of State Clinton Promotes (100% Support)
•This Treaty Could Lead to Other Treaties


Our students would focus on a specific issue in our Senate, like START, because it is a treaty negotiated by our president.


Writing officials about specific laws and treaties is how American students learn about genuine civic participation and become active adult citizens who have a voice in government.

特定の法律や条約について、役人・政府関係者に書簡を書くのは、米国の学生が真に社会に参加すること、政府に対して意見を伝えること ができる、積極的な成人市民になるため

Letter from Japan

Dear Ms Allen,

How are you? I hope this message finds you well.


Well actually I am sure that you are more than very well. Although it might be a bit too early, I believe the New START Treaty is now almost sure to be ratified considering it moved to the final vote on tomorrow. Congratulations!! I had been a bit worried about this due to the middle election result and also to the decreasing support for Democrats. Nonetheless, the Senate made it! To be concise, those who made it are students, who have been supported and motivated by your fantastic educational programmes including this summer trip to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This whole process is very encouraging and important experience for both the US and Japanese students both of whom are making the difference to the world.


I am now translating the English news for the Tokyo students, but will not be necessary because the New START will be a big news on every large newspaper in Japan. Tokyo students and Mr Okuzumi say they are also very happy for this huge step and would continue their efforts with further energy. 


Indeed wonderful news and again congratulations!!



Ryo Sekiguchi, a volunteer translater in Hiroshima

Tomorrow could possibly be the best the Christmas present

Officially yesterday, December 21, the Senate voted to move the New START Treaty to a final vote! Moving on with the 67 to 28 vote, the New START Treaty could be a great triumph for the Obama administration. However, more personally, this momentous occasion would be the culmination of all the international effort made during the summer.

About four months have past, and the New START Treaty hovered in the background as everyone started a fresh school year. But now, during my winter break, there's not only an opportunity for me to invigorate my hope for the New START Treaty but a chance to reflect. After my summer vacation ended and after delivering the petitions, I missed Japan terribly and wanted desperately to return to my glorious summer memories - but I didn't really understand how much this trip was slowly changing my perspective. Only now, do I realize the subtle changes.

During the vacation, my perspective was changed:
--Changed from just another student who is passively concerned about nuclear proliferation to a vocal member of the group of international activists united in their cause.
I was more surprised in opposing scenarios:
1. By the big number of students who really supported nuclear non-proliferation.
2. Disappointedly by the students who rudely joked and possessed the characteristics of "cool apathy" and disrespect to those who were passionate.

However another concern that I kept tucked in the corners of my brain was a changing yet omnipresent fear.
--It was first a complicated mixed fear: stage-fright combined with the fear of being an unprepared incompetent who wasn't passionate enough or deserving enough for the summer's opportunities.

But afterwards, it changed to the fear of:
-What if the treaty isn't passed and is a complete failure and disappointment to all the Japanese students who worked so hard into opposing another Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

And the only thing that will subdue the fear aside from the good news is the faintest hope that even if it fails, the fight will continue -- constantly empowered by others around the entire world (not just the Japanese). Although it sounds terrible to me right now, our summer crusade was a drop in the bucket. Even this blog aside from being a recorded document of our events, could possibly (though very doubtfully) stir someone's concern to action - and that's all I can hope for.

And as my late night tunes flow through my earbuds, it's surprising how perfectly a lyric fits with this blog post:
"Isn't it nice to know that the lining is silver?" - Relient K

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Take Urgent Action to Get START Ratified Now!

Don't Let Senator Kyl Stand in the Way of Ratification!

Will you help? Tell your senators that you expect them to demand a vote on the
New START Treaty now, in the lame duck session of Congress. Then ask five friends
to take action too. The New START way leads to threat reduction, confidence
building, and more security. Senator Kyl’s way leads to threat escalation, loss
of confidence, and less security. You can help turn the Senate in the direction
of more security.

The fewer nuclear weapons and the more we know about them, the safer we will all be. Senator Lugar knows this; so do the past five chairs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and General Colin Powell. That's why they, along with FCNL (the Friends Committee for National Legislation), are demanding that the Senate ratify the New START treaty with Russia, now -- before this session of Congress ends in December.

We have the 67 votes needed to ratify the treaty, but that supermajority makes no difference if one man, Senator Jon Kyl from Arizona, gets the way. He wants to prevent a vote. Tell your senators to make sure that Senator Kyl does not get a "one-man veto."

Go to this link to take action online, and please spread the word:
Action Alert

Why Ratify New START?

* It will reduce tensions between the two largest nuclear powers in the world
by allowing both countries to inspect the other country’s nuclear arsenal.
With the expiration in December 2009 of the first START treaty, inspections
and verifications have stopped. Those inspections can resume as soon as the
new START is ratified.

* It will reduce the number of deployed nuclear weapons in both of our
countries, from 2,200 to 1,550 each.

* If our Senate fails to ratify START, prospects dim for future ratification of
the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Who supports this treaty?
Click here:
Treaty Supporters

Monday, September 13, 2010


On September 1st, we delivered all of the petitions we collected in Japan (we accounted for only about 4,000 signatures but the number is much much larger) to Senator Charles Schumer's Office in Washington D.C.. We presented the petitions to Gretchen Gardner, Defense Legislative Fellow to Senator Schumer, and told her all about our trip to Japan. Gretchen was incredibly nice and seemed very optimistic about the ratification of the New Start Treaty. Much to our delight, she assured us that Senator Schumer would see our petitions and maybe even mention us and our story in some of his talking points about the treaty. Overall it was a wonderful completion of our trip -- only the ratification of the New Start Treaty, could be a more wonderful completion.

Me and Pauline handing the petitions over to Gretchen

Pauline and me prepping for our meeting in the Senate Office Building. There were a lot of papers to compile.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Extending Our Thanks Part 2

As an addition to Ms. Allen's final gratitudes, I'd like to mention so many people.

 I'd like too thank all the translators who helped me break the language barrier.
-Ms. Okada
-Mr. Sekiguchi
-Ms. Maekawa
-Ms. Kaihara
-Kyoko Toyama
-The volunteer translators who helped at the Youth Hostel in Hiroshima (sorry, I've forgotten their names...oops)
-And the volunteer translators who helped translate our presentations in Kyoto

Finally, I'd like to help thank all the other organizers who helped all of us throughout our journey in Japan:

- Mr. Okimura (Tokyo organizer) who were with us at the Hiroshima youth hostel
-Ms. Yamashita (a key organizer to our successful stay at Nagasaki)
-Ms. Yamada (a key organizer to our successful stay at Nagasaki)
-Koshiro Kusano (a young university student who organized Nick and my workshop in Nagasaki)
-Miki Kenjo (who showed us around two awesome Tokyo museums: Ghibli and Ukiyo-e)

And I'd like to extend my appreciation and gratitude to all the hibakusha who took the time to personally and privately speak with us.
-Ms. Akizuki
-Mr. Hirose
-Mr. Konishi (even though Ms. Allen was the only one spoke to him)

Last but not least, not forgetting one IMPORTANT person:

I'd like to give our heartfelt thanks to Mr. Arihara for setting this all up and being the backbone for our entire trip.

(Ms. Maekawa, Mr. Arihara, and Mutsuko)

Although I know "Thank you"is quite the understatement, I hope it will serve the message of how thankful I am for everything all these wonderful people have done for us.